ERIE Pa. — As farmers across Pennsylvania return to the fields to plant crops this spring, representatives from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) and the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, State Police and Transportation are promoting safe driving on rural roads as part of Rural Roads Safety Week April 16-22.
Erie County farmer Mark Troyer said, “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 be patient if they are delayed,” he said.
Troyer plants and harvests 400 acres of potatoes near Waterford and also grows green beans, corn and other grains.
Farm Bureau notes that while it’s timely to remind motorists to be cautious now that spring planting is underway, practicing safe driving habits on rural roads is important all year long.
Erie County Farm Bureau President Nick Mobilia said drivers need to keep their guard up by reducing speeds and being more aware of other motorists to prevent accidents.
According to PennDOT’s 2016 crash data, there were 89 crashes, including 72 injuries and one fatality that involved farm equipment on rural roads in Pennsylvania and an additional 11 crashes involving farm equipment, with eight injuries and no fatalities in urban areas.
In contrast, PennDOT data indicates there were 53,883 crashes on rural roads statewide last year, with 31,750 injuries and 758 fatalities from those crashes.
Bill Petit, District Executive of PennDOT District 1, said last year there was a decrease in the number of crashes in rural areas, as well as in the number of injuries and fatalities associated with those crashes.
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.
Major Edward Hoke, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol, urges drivers to slow down and limit distractions when behind the wheel.
A brochure with background information and tips for motorists and farmers as part of Rural Roads Safety Week is available at pfb.com.