Safety Matters on North Carolina Farms

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Few people understand the importance of farmer safety on roadways more than North Carolina Farm Bureau President Shawn Harding. During harvest season of 1999, he lost his brother, Todd, in an accident. Todd was driving a tractor on a two-lane road when he was hit by a dump truck that was driving too fast and unable to stop.

“It was really tough, as you can imagine,” Harding says. “We grew up together and had been farming together since 1990. He had a wife and three small children. Just a shame.”

To help prevent similar accidents, the main step to take when you encounter a tractor or farm equipment on the road is to slow down.

farmer safety

Photo credit: Fran Jacquier

Most agricultural vehicles have flashing lights or orange slow-moving vehicle signs, but drivers might not realize just how slow they’re going. “Once you see them, you have to slow down immediately,” Harding says. “There’s such a difference between 55 to 65 mph and 20 to 25 mph. You come up on vehicles so quickly.”

The other thing drivers can do is have patience. “Most farmers are looking for the opportunity to get to a road or side road where we can let you go,” he says. “We understand that you want to get to where you’re going.”

Harding hopes that drivers will recognize there are people in the farm equipment on the road. “The person behind the wheel of that tractor is your neighbor and an important part of your community,” he says.

This awareness effort takes a national stage during National Farm Safety and Health Week, which takes place Sept. 20-26. And download this See a Tractor PDF for safety tips and more information.

See more: Sun Safety for Farmers

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