Be alert. Be patient. Be kind.
That’s the message state officials are sending to Vermont drivers this season, as farmers return to the roads with tractors and heavy equipment.
The Agencies of Agriculture, Transportation, and Department of Public Safety have teamed up to create a new public safety message that reminds Vermonters to take extra care on the roads. They are sharing the PSA with Vermonters on social media, in an effort to build awareness for rural road safety.
“Farmers are working hard to grow our economy, and keep Vermont beautiful,” according to Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. “Sometimes they need a little extra patience and care from fellow drivers – let’s give it to them.”
“Living in Vermont means living among our beautiful farms. Farmers are our neighbors, friends and co-workers,” added Tom Anderson, Commissioner of Public Safety. “We’re asking all motorists to put safety first. Slow down, be patient and courteous, and enjoy the scenery.”
Ryan Carabeau is a farmer from Richmond who worked with the state to produce the PSA. He says he understands drivers can feel frustrated and confused when they encounter tractors on the road. He hopes the PSA will serve as a reminder to Vermont motorists to be careful.
“I’ve had a few close calls over the years with impatient and distracted drivers,” he says. “It can be scary.”
“Attention, patience, and kindness are key to living and driving in rural communities,” says Tebbetts.
Here are some specific actions motorists should take when they approach a tractor on the road:
1) Slow down
The first thing you should do is slow down. Remember, the top speed for most tractors is 20mph. Slow down and give yourself the time and space to assess the situation.
2) Pay close attention
You should always give the road 100% of your attention – especially when approaching farm equipment.
3) Don’t get too close
Give the farmer some space. Do not tailgate – it causes stress and distraction.
4) Don’t pass until it is safe
Wait for a safe opportunity to pass. When it’s all clear, it’s OK to pass a tractor, as long as you do so safely!
5) Be alert for turns
Looks for turn indicators, like hand signals and blinkers from the drivers. Farm machinery makes wide turns. Sometimes tractors will turn directly into fields - no driveway needed. Be especially alert for left hand turns. The left-turn collision is the most common type of farm machinery collision on public roads. It happens when the farm vehicle is about to make a left turn; meanwhile, the motorist behind the farm vehicle decides to pass.