Mo­torists and farm­ers urged to share roads dur­ing fall har­vest

Kent County News - - NEWS -

CH­ESTER­TOWN — Fall has ar­rived and farm­ers will be us­ing com­bines and other large slow-mov­ing pieces of equip­ment dur­ing the har­vest pe­riod now through Novem­ber.

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion joined the Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the Mary­land Farm Bureau for a news re­lease dis­cussing driver safety as mo­torists trav­el­ing Mary­land high­ways and ru­ral roads likely will share the road with farm equip­ment from one of Mary­land’s 12,300 farms.

“Farm­ers are legally al­lowed to op­er­ate farm equip­ment on pub­lic road­ways and there are times when farm ve­hi­cles must op­er­ate on high­ways to move be­tween farm and field,” said Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder in a state­ment. “I en­cour­age all mo­torists to be pa­tient when trav­el­ing on roads near Mary­land farms and drive with cau­tion to en­sure the safety of mo­torists and farm­ers.”

Gre­gory Slater, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion, echoed Barten­felder’s state­ment.

“When trav­el­ing this fall along ru­ral routes in­clud­ing ma­jor U.S. routes and Mary­land ar­te­ri­als, ex­pect to en­counter farm equip­ment on the road as well,” Slater said. “We will place por­ta­ble elec­tronic signs along ma­jor farm­ing routes to re­mind driv­ers that the har­vest sea­son is here, and that they should ap­proach and pass farm equip­ment care­fully.”

This har­vest sea­son the SHA, the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the Farm Bureau are work­ing to­gether to edu- cate driv­ers to ex­pect farm equip­ment on ru­ral routes, and to ap­proach th­ese ve­hi­cles with cau­tion. Har­vest­ing farm equip­ment is very large and likely will share travel lanes while work­ing along farm­land ad­ja­cent to roads.

“Mary­land farm­ers are tak­ing ev­ery safety pre­cau­tion avail­able to pro­tect mo­torists and them­selves while trav­el­ing in equip­ment on the roads, in­clud­ing slow-mov­ing ve­hi­cle signs, flash­ing lights and rais­ing all equip­ment at­tach­ments,” said Mary­land Farm Bureau Pres­i­dent Chuck Fry. “Please help pro­tect the men and women who work hard ev­ery day to pro­duce your food, fuel and fiber, es­pe­cially dur­ing this har­vest sea­son when there are more com­bines and farm trucks on the roads.”

The Farm Bureau has selected strate­gic lo­ca­tions for the SHA to po­si­tion elec­tronic mes­sage signs along Mary­land roads, such as U.S. Route 301, through­out the state. Ad­di­tion­ally, the SHA will re­in­force the har­vest safety mes­sage through so­cial me­dia.

If you en­counter farm equip­ment, a farmer un­der­stands that your trip is be­ing de­layed, so he or she will pull off of the road at the first avail­able safe lo­ca­tion to al­low you to pass, the re­lease states.

Do not as­sume that the farmer can im­me­di­ately move aside. Road shoul­ders may be soft, wet or steep, and this can cause a farm ve­hi­cle to tip, or the shoul­der may be un­able to sup­port a heavy farm ve­hi­cle.

If a farmer has pulled off the road to al­low you to pass, or if he or she can­not pull off the road and you feel you must pass, do so with cau­tion. Also, be watch­ful of ve­hi­cles be­hind you that may also try to pass.

If you must en­ter the on­com­ing lane of traf­fic, do not pass un­less you can see clearly ahead of both you and the ve­hi­cle you will pass. If there are any curves or hills ahead that may block your view or the view of on­com­ing ve­hi­cles, do not pass. Do not pass if you are in a des­ig­nated “No Pass­ing Zone” or within 100 feet of any in­ter­sec­tion, rail­road grade cross­ing, bridge, el­e­va­tion struc­ture or tun­nel.

Do not as­sume that a farm ve­hi­cle that pulls to the right side of the road is go­ing to turn right or is let­ting you pass. Due to the size of some farm im­ple­ments, the farmer must ex­e­cute wide left-hand turns. If you are un­sure, check the oper­a­tor’s hand sig­nals and check the left side of the road for gates, drive­ways or any place a farm ve­hi­cle may turn.

For more in­for­ma­tion about agri­cul­ture in Mary­land, visit mda.mary­land.gov or roads. mary­land.gov.

FILE PHOTO

The state trans­porta­tion and agri­cul­ture of­fi­cials re­mind mo­torists that, with har­vest sea­son in full swing, mo­torists need to be pre­pared to share the road with com­bines, like the one shown here, and trac­tors.

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