Road safety tips for busy seasons

May 9, 2023
When large farm equipment must travel rural roadways, it can be a dangerous time for drivers. Matt Surdick, CHS senior environmental health and safety manager, offers tips for sharing the road safely.

As fieldwork ramps up on farms and ranches, so do roadway safety risks for equipment operators and motorists. Matt Surdick, senior environmental health and safety manager with CHS, offers advice to help everyone share the road safely.

Anticipate, concentrate, take action while driving

Before equipment operators head into traffic, they should ensure lights are functioning, slow-moving signs are affixed, turn signals are working and reflective tape is making equipment visible in low-light situations, Surdick says. Those items help motorists see equipment more clearly on roadways or at field entrances.

“We stress the ACT concept: anticipate, concentrate and take action as you drive. Drivers can anticipate problems by focusing on the road, staying alert and watching mirrors for equipment and other motorists. Concentrating means eliminating distractions like cell phones while driving. And taking action means driving defensively to protect yourself and those around you from potential hazards,” Surdick explains.

Be patient on roadways

Spring and harvest seasons bring extra equipment on rural roads. Surdick says motorists should allow themselves extra time for travel and stay patient. “Give equipment operators plenty of space on the road. These larger pieces of equipment require much more clearance to turn than a passenger vehicle. The biggest thing everyone can do to stay safe is to have patience on the roadways.

Dawn and dusk are typically high-risk times for travel. The rising and setting sun can cause blind spots for drivers, so Surdick recommends using sunglasses and visors to improve vision. “Fatigue also comes into play in the morning and evening, as people are just waking up or heading home after a long day at work.”

Stay aware to reduce risks

Awareness is the key, says Surdick. He urges equipment operators to monitor conditions to avoid getting equipment stuck, which can increase the risk of rollovers.

“Take a few extra seconds to walk around the equipment to identify where people are. Don’t just assume you know where everyone is,” says Surdick. And operators should pay special attention to power lines as they travel with equipment with booms.

“Being aware of our surroundings and keeping an eye out for each other can lead to a safer, successful season,” Surdick concludes.

Car traveling behind large tractor in shoulder with busy oncoming traffic