MADISON – Fall harvest time is one of the busiest seasons for Alabama farmers working to bring in their crops. It can also be one of the most dangerous.
To help awareness, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week.
“We finished the wheat harvest in June and right now we are working on bringing in the corn,” said local farmer Stan Menefee. “We try our best not to impact drivers during rush hour or on busy roadways.”
Menefee farms 2,500 acres in Limestone and Madison counties. Menefee said he appreciates when drivers share the road safely and understand that farmers are also doing their jobs.
“Farmers try to respect the other drivers on the road,” he said. “We’re just wanting to get where we’re going and get off the road.”
Initiated by the National Safety Council, the National Farm Safety and Health Week has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.
In a statement to mark National Farm Safety and Health Week, Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell urged drivers to exercise patience on the roads.
“Row crop farmers have spent months cultivating corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans,” said Parnell. “Now, it’s time to get those crops out of the field and into the hands of people who depend on them. Farmers are providing for the folks they share the road with. Those drivers have places they need to get to safely, and their farmer friends do, too.
“We encourage all drivers, whether you’re in a car or a combine, to be alert, slow down and be patient. A little patience goes a long way as we share roads this harvest season.”
The federation noted it takes just 5 seconds for a car moving 55 mph to close a gap the length of a football field with a tractor moving 15 mph.
The federation shared these tips to stay safe on the roads:
- Slow down. Most farm equipment is designed to travel at speeds of only 15 to 25 mph.
- Watch for slow-moving vehicle signs. These signs are orange triangles and are required for vehicles traveling less than 25 mph.
- Look for electronic or hand turn signals. Just because a tractor veers right does not mean the operator is pulling over to allow someone to pass. The size of farm equipment often dictates the necessity of wide turns.
- Pass farm equipment cautiously. Even when passing safely and legally, machinery may sway.
- Keep all tires on the road. Expect equipment operators to do the same. Driving with one set of tires on loose-surface shoulders increases risk of rolling over.
- Watch for flashing amber lights. This often marks the far right and left of farm equipment. Also watch for reflective tape marking extremities and sides of equipment.
- Remember agricultural vehicle operators have a right to drive equipment on the road.
National Farm Safety and Health Week is Sept. 17-23. Click here to learn more about farm safety priorities.