Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: April 16, 2019
(Motorists Urged to Drive with Caution as Farm Vehicles Return to Rural Roads)
(Mechanicsburg) – As farmers across Pennsylvania get their seeds, fertilizer and equipment ready 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 14-20.
Cumberland County farmer Ian Stamy hosted the news conference in conjunction with 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 and commonsense when approaching farm vehicles and to be patient, even though they may be delayed,” said Ian Stamy, who grows corn, soybeans and other grains on 2,600 acres of land near Mechanicsburg. “As farmers, we have a job to do, but we are also interested in building and maintaining good relationships with those who live near us and travel in our community.”
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.
“Although we are promoting Rural Roads Safety Week, we hope motorist will drive defensively throughout the entire planting, growing and harvesting seasons. We are also encouraging farmers to double-check safety devices, signage and lighting on their vehicles to ensure they are visible and meeting all transportation standards,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “Frankly, we believe accidents can be prevented if farmers and motorists look out for one another. When all motorists drive smart, share the road and follow basic safe driving tips, we can prevent accidents and save lives.”
According to preliminary PennDOT crash data, there were eight (8) fatalities from crashes involving farm equipment in 2018, while 693 people were killed in non-farm related crashes on rural roads in 2018.
“Safety is PennDOT’s most important priority, not only on interstates and state roads, but also on rural roads where large farm equipment travels,” PennDOT Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards said. “Ultimately safe driving is up to each one of us so please slow down when approaching large farm equipment, always avoid distractions, obey traffic laws and remain alert while driving.”
Farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on Pennsylvania roads and they must display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) Emblem (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.
“Rural roads are an important part of the infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania State Police Acting Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick. “Safe, attentive driving on a rural road is just as important as safety on a major interstate. Drivers must be aware of the different types of farm machinery they might encounter while traveling on a rural road and remember to slow down, buckle up, and never drive distracted.”
During the news conference, a proclamation from Governor Tom Wolf declaring April 14-20 as Rural Roads Safety Week in Pennsylvania was presented to host farmer Ian Stamy and PFB President Rick Ebert by Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
“Getting from farmsteads to fields often requires farmers to use Pennsylvania’s byways and highways, often with slow and oversized equipment. While the PA Farm Bill proposes changes in the law to make transporting big machinery on roadways more efficient, we all still need to keep safety as our first priority while we’re on the road,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “A few seconds of inconvenience for motorists is a small price to pay not only for everyone’s safety, but for the success of our state’s $135.7 billion agriculture industry, which benefits us all. I ask everyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle to be careful on our roads, especially during this busy spring planting season.”
In addition to the statewide news conference at Stamy Farms in Cumberland County, several other county Farm Bureaus across Pennsylvania held news events this week to help spread the word about RRSW.
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,
representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.