A feature from the 2023 Farm Prodcuts Guide.
How many times have you been rushing to work and end up behind a slow-moving tractor or other piece of farm equipment? If you live, work, or commute through Chester County, it's probably happened to you. Agriculture is one of Chester County's top industries and economic drivers. It gives the county its sense of place and is an important part of its history. But a thriving agriculture industry requires year-round movement of people and products to make it all possible.
And it's not just about tractors. People need to move all kinds of vehicles including sprayers, combines, livestock trailers, hay, and milk trucks. You'll also likely see Amish buggies and horse drawn farm implements. PennDot has found that moving agricultural products is a significant portion of all trucking activity. If you like to eat, then those big trucks are on the road because of you.
Despite our reliance on agricultural vehicles and the people who drive them, Chester County farmers have been experiencing an unfortunate uptick in encounters with unsafe or distracted drivers, according to a 2023 Chester County Ag Council survey. What can you do to help?
If you are driving in Chester County, especially on rural roads, you are likely to encounter farm equipment, especially between April and November. Please allow plenty of time to reach your destination and know that if you are behind an agricultural vehicle, it will likely only add a couple minutes to your overall travel time.
If the farmer has pulled off the road so that you may pass — or if the farmer does not pull over, but you feel you must pass — do so with caution. Never pass when curves or hills block your view of oncoming vehicles, you are in a 'No Passing Zone' or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure, or tunnel. Also, be careful that the farmer is not pulling to the right to make a wide left turn.
Sometimes farm equipment is wider than travel lanes. If you approach wide equipment and cannot pass safely, stop. Please pull off the road, turn around, or back away so the equipment can pass you. Watch for pilot or escort cars, which help to indicate an oversize vehicle — if you see one, pull off so the vehicle can pass you.
Don't assume the farmer knows you are driving near his vehicle. While most farmers will check behind themselves whenever possible, they are often concentrating on keeping their equipment on the road and avoiding oncoming traffic and low-hanging branches. Before you pass, use your horn to let the driver know where you are. Note that farmers may not be able to hear you over their equipment noise.
Remember, farmers and truck drivers are people too, with jobs and families just like yours. They deserve to get home safely at the end of the day and so do you.
Thanks to Pennsylvania Farm Bureau for these road safety tips.