It’s that time of year again when there is a proliferation of large farm vehicles making their way to and from fields for field preparation, planting and a particularly early first cut of hay.
It’s a critical time for farmers as they work with and/or often against conditions thrown at them by Mother Nature to complete these critical tasks in their efforts to earn a living.
An encounter on the road with one of these lumbering machines can challenge the patience of any driver but it’s important to understand the position of the machine operator. They follow a different set of rules designed to maximize road safety while minimizing frustration for others on the road.
Given the size, weight and general nature of some of the equipment travelling on the road, farm equipment operators follow different road regulations. Rules surrounding slow driving do not apply to farm equipment, nor do normal seat-belt regulations or restrictions regarding driving on the shoulder. While normal vehicles are not allowed to travel on the shoulder, farm equipment may do so and in some cases this would be preferred. Narrow farm equipment may not straddle the shoulder- it must operate either entirely on the travelled portion of the road or on the shoulder.
As a long line of traffic forms behind a slow moving vehicle, one might expect it to pull over to let traffic pass out of courtesy. Drivers of these vehicles have sole discretion in the decision to pull over to let traffic pass based on their assessment of the safety of such a maneuver. Leaving the road presents its own challenges, and the decision to move over is not a simple as it seems.
When you come upon a farm vehicle on the road, be patient and remember that they just commuting to their places of work. Their driving decisions are designed to protect, not annoy, others on the road. Take a moment to acknowledge their efforts with a wave — the five-fingered kind. KG