Driving on rural roads may leave a driver with feeling safe and relaxed
but their perceptions may be unfounded. Many factors make country roads risky. One of the big problems?
Drivers' inexperience sharing the road with large farm vehicles.
Here are tips for doing so safely:
- Drive defensively, especially during planting and harvest seasons. "Recognize that you're in an agricultural environment where you might encounter these types of vehicles," says Lee Munnich, director of CERS.
- Slow down. Farm vehicles often travel at slow speeds. To reduce the risk of a collision, begin braking when you see the slow-moving vehicle emblem. Also stay a safe distance back — around 50 feet.
- Pass carefully. Take the standard precautions: Wait for a safe passing zone, watch for oncoming traffic, signal and return to the lane once the vehicle is in your rearview mirror. If the vehicle is extra-wide, wait to pass until the driver pulls over and signals that it's safe. Honk your horn beforehand in case the driver can't see you.
- Yield. Give a wide farm vehicle the right-of-way when it's traveling the opposite direction. Farm vehicles can't always pull over to the road's shoulder safely. If possible, pull onto the shoulder or into a turn-out to allow the farm vehicle to pass.
- Be patient. A driver may appear to be pulling to the right to let you pass when he or she is actually making a wide left-hand turn. Before speeding past, look for driveways, roads or fields where the vehicle might be entering. Also check for hand gestures or lights signaling the driver's intention to turn.
- Know the basics. Following the speed limit and wearing your safety belt is just as important in the country as it is on city streets.
- Take a second look. Before you pull into an intersection or make a move to pass, be sure your path is clear in all directions. Tall crops can create "blind" corners, and farm vehicles could enter the roadway from unmarked access drives on their fields.