Six seconds, 44 feet.
If you are driving a car down a rural road at 55 miles per hour, and you come over a rise or around a curve, and 500 feet ahead of you is a tractor or buggy going 5 mph, you will be 44 feet from the rear of that tractor or buggy in six seconds.
Speeds and distances will change the seconds and feet a bit, but each player in these potential tragedies have responsibilities to uphold to keep everyone safe. Careful driving, slow moving vehicle signs and well marked buggies are all important.
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to drive through Stark and Holmes counties on a beautiful, clear, sunny, bright day (notice that visibility was not an issue here).
When driving through Wayne and Holmes counties, I tend to be a slower driver, not knowing when I’ll round a corner and come upon a buggy, farm equipment, bicyclist or pedestrian. It’s not a problem; we all share the roads.
In Holmes County, only the fact that a buggy was being pulled by a horse with some white around his feet kept me from hitting the buggy. The buggy was going up a hill, and it had no markings, no tape, no reflectors, no slow moving vehicle sign.
Because it was going uphill, it was silhouetted against the black road, not the sky or another contrasting color. The slight flash (underneath the buggy) of the small white markings around the horse’s feet as it trotted briskly up the hill caught my attention and allowed me to slow and stop in time.
On the return trip, I drove a different route through Stark County to take a look at some of the crops in that area. On State Route 153, it was a replay of the day before, but with a dark green tractor. No slow moving vehicle sign, no lights, no nothing.
This was an older tractor, obviously lovingly restored and freshly painted, being driven down the road. It was also difficult to see, even in full daylight. This was another accident waiting to happen.
Nearly everyone who has driven farm machinery on the road has a horror story to tell about another driver that has run them off the road, tried to pass them when they were turning left (with signals) or has actually hit them. These drivers are a hazard to themselves and others and ought to be off the road.
It is our responsibility, however, to make sure that we are driving machinery, equipment and buggies that are marked so that we can be seen when we are on the road.
Slow moving vehicle signs should be permanently attached to equipment, and every farm ought to have a couple extras that can be clipped onto any piece of machinery or equipment that is going over the road.
These signs fade
Replacements are available in farm supply stores and through mail order catalogs. Replacement stickers for the faded sign, costing $10 or $15, can be considered a part of your estate plan. Driving well marked machinery, equipment and buggies can keep our families from having to implement our estate plans earlier than expected.
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