Drivers should be on the lookout for farm machinery

Farm machinery poses a safety risk on Ohio roads

Farm machinery is appearing more frequently on Ohio's roadways as farmers harvest their crops and soybeans.

Many farmers are behind schedule, and they will travel to and from their fields at all hours of the day to catch up and hopefully finish by Thanksgiving.

In 2011, there were 87 injury crashes in Ohio that involved farm vehicles or farm equipment, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Crashes involving farm equipment occur every year, but officials said they are preventable.

Motorists are encouraged to slow down as soon as they spot farm equipment on the roadway.

Most farm equipment travels between 15 to 20 mph. Drivers should be on the lookout for emblems on the back of farm machinery indicating whether it is slow moving.

Motorists should be patient and cautious and wait for the right opportunity to pass.

"Be sure to pay attention for agricultural vehicles making left hand turns into field entrances," said Kathy Mann, program coordinator with the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering with Ohio State University Extension. "Do not attempt to pass, and allow the vehicle to fully exit the roadway before driving past."

Equipment operators are urged to use lights and flashers and other devices to make the machines more visible.

Operators sometimes should use escort vehicles, especially at night. Operators are encouraged to allow traffic to pass if it is backing up by pulling over the shoulder when it is safe.

In the last decade, about two in five farm-related deaths in Ohio involved tractors, and tractor roll-overs were a common cause of tractor fatalities, according to the Ohio State University Extension.

The risk of death from roll-overs can be reduced using roll-over protective structures. But in 2011, only 60 percent of the 4.4 million tractors in operation on U.S. ranches and farms were equipped with this protection.

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