With planting season cranking up, motorists and farmers are encouraged to follow safety protocols so accidents don’t rise with the crops.
Washington County farmer Rod Richardson, who farms with his two sons, Walt and David, said planting season is important and encouraged motorists to exercise patience.
“We’ve got a right to be on the roads, too,” Richardson said. “We’ve got to be on the roads to get to our fields so we can raise the things consumers need to eat and the fiber they need for clothing.”
David Richardson, who helps his brother and father grow corn, wheat, peanuts and cotton and raise beef cattle, asked motorists to pay attention and slow down when they see a Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV) sign.
“We’ve had an accident before where the mother had a child in the front seat and ran into the tractor and flipped the tractor,” he said. “Nobody was seriously hurt, but just remember equipment is moving slowly. Try to drive with caution.”
Alabama law requires a triangular red-and-orange Slow-Moving Vehicle sign be affixed to all farm tractors, self-propelled farm equipment or any other vehicle designed for speeds of 25 mph or less whenever it travels any highway in the state.
Responsible practices for motorists include:
- Reduce speed immediately when a SMV sign is spotted. At 55 mph, a driver has about three seconds before colliding with a tractor a football field away.
- The likelihood of meeting farm machinery on a public highway increases during planting, haying and harvesting seasons (late February through late October).
- Be patient. Farm machinery can’t travel at high speeds. While most farmers will move to the roadside and let traffic pass when it’s safe, it is not required under Alabama law.
- Pass with caution slowly and deliberately.
Responsible practices for tractor operators include:
- Display a SMV sign on all slow-moving equipment used on public roads.
- Be courteous. If traffic is getting heavy, pull to the shoulder and stop if there is enough room for all the equipment. Watch out for mail boxes, sign posts, ditches or other hazards that may move equipment into the oncoming lane.
- Keep close watch in front and behind the tractor. Motorists may approach from the rear at speeds two to three times faster than a tractor.
- Never try to “help” by motioning other vehicles to pass—a vehicle may enter from a side road.
By A.J. Watson