Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: April 11, 2018
Motorists Urged to Drive with Caution
as Farm Vehicles Return to Rural Roads
(Duncannon) – As farmers across Pennsylvania gear up to return to the fields for spring planting, representatives from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) and the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, State Police and Transportation joined together to promote safe driving on rural roads as part of Rural Roads Safety Week (RRSW), April 8-14.
Perry County farmer Garry Raub hosted the statewide news conference on behalf of PFB, which is the state’s largest farm organization. “The purpose of Rural Roads Safety Week is to alert drivers that large, slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment are once again traveling on rural roads across the state. We’re urging motorists to use caution when approaching farm vehicles and to be patient if they are delayed,” said Garry Raub, who raises beef cattle and grows a variety of grains on several farms near Duncannon.
Farm Bureau notes that while it’s timely to remind motorists to be cautious now that spring planting is getting underway, practicing safe driving habits on rural roads is important all year long.
“Drivers need to keep their guard up throughout the planting, growing and harvesting seasons by reducing speed and being more aware of motorists operating farm vehicles. We also encourage all farmers to double-check safety measures on their vehicles to ensure they are visible to motorists and following all transportation laws," said PFB President Rick Ebert. “We believe costly accidents can be avoided, serious injuries can be prevented and lives can be saved if farmers and motorists look out for one another on country roads.”
According to PennDOT’s 2017 crash data, there were 106 crashes, including 64 injuries and five fatalities, involving farm equipment on rural roads in Pennsylvania. In contrast, PennDOT data indicates there were 53,883 crashes on rural roads statewide last year, with 30,922 injuries and 693 fatalities from those crashes.
“PennDOT urges all drivers to use caution on rural roads,” PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration George McAuley said. “Especially in spring and summer, which is the most common time of year farm vehicles will be on the roads in rural areas. Please avoid distractions, obey traffic laws, and wear your seat belt for a safe drive.”
Farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on Pennsylvania roads and they must display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) Emblem, which is an orange colored triangle with a red border, on the rear of all vehicles or equipment that consistently travel at speeds of 25 mph or less.
“Drivers traveling through rural areas must be aware of hazards and rules that may differ from those traveling on busy interstates. Safely navigating rural roads requires caution to be observed for changing speed limits, hills and curves, and farm vehicles that you might be sharing the road with,” said Trooper Brent Miller, Troop H Public Information Officer. “Please slow down and be aware of your surroundings while behind the wheel.”
During the news conference, a proclamation from Governor Tom Wolf declaring April 8-14 as Rural Roads Safety Week in Pennsylvania was presented to host farmer Garry Raub and PFB President Rick Ebert by Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture representative Mike Smith.
“Pennsylvania has more than 72,000 miles of rural roads, and though they are well-used, they may lack the safety features commonly found on urban and suburban roadways,” said PDA Executive Deputy Secretary Michael Smith. “Rural Pennsylvanians rely on those roads as they travel to work or school, or transport products and machinery each day. It is our responsibility to drive safely and exercise caution when traveling these routes, to ensure the safety of everyone on the road.”
In addition to the statewide news conference at Raub Farms in Perry County, numerous county Farm Bureaus across Pennsylvania held news events this week to help spread the word about RRSW.
“As farmers, we have a job to do, but we are interested in building and maintaining good relationships with those who live near us and travel in our community. The last thing we want is to be involved in an accident, so we are placing an extra emphasis on looking out for others on country roads,” concluded Raub.
PFB created a brochure with background information and tips for motorists and farmers as part of Rural Roads Safety Week. The brochure can be viewed or downloaded from the following link: www.pfb.com/images/brochures/current-RRS-bro.pdf.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with more than 62,000 member families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.