With the fine weather we are experiencing at the moment farmers are busy spreading slurry so MAYO COUNTY COUNCIL has appealed to road users to exercise "tolerance" if they are caught behind farm machinery in the coming weeks and to ‘give farmers a break', it's one time of the rear that rural road rage peeps its head up. Car drivers who are used to keeping up a steady 80kph on country roads at other times of the year find their heart rates soaring and steam coming out of their ears as they stare at the rear end of a tractor, the tractor driver, (if he has a 50kph gearbox) has a maximum speed of 50kph to play with.
With the warmer weather of spring comes one of the busiest and most exciting times of the year for farmers -Spreading slurry or preparing ground for planting season. As farmers head to the fields to plant, farm-vehicle traffic increases on rural roads. The farming community encourage all drivers to exercise caution when approaching tractors and farm implements to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
Motorists should recognize that farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads, as does any other motor vehicle.
Farm equipment is so big and slow, how could you possibly hit a farm vehicle? Consider this: A car travelling 90kph can close a 300-foot gap (the length of a football field) and overtake a tractor moving at 24 kph in about four seconds. If you do not begin to slow as soon as you see a farm vehicle, you might not have time to avoid a collision.
The road safety office of Mayo County Council offers some safety tips for motorists who find themselves sharing the road with farm equipment.
Farmers -- who drive their equipment on the roads -- will often try to get out of the way when they can, but they need drivers to be patient and wait for equipment to find a place to pull over.
Noel Gibbons Road safety officer said that "drivers' anxiety levels sky-rockets" when they find themselves stuck behind farm machinery, but that it is likely to delay the road user by just a couple of minutes.
The keys to sharing the road with farm equipment are caution and patience.
Even if you have to slow down to 30 kph and follow a tractor for two miles, it only takes six minutes of your time, which is equivalent to waiting for two Traffic lights.
"Country roads are unpredictable and, therefore, present far more challenges to drivers," he warned.
Country crashes often result in greater numbers of fatalities and injuries because vehicles are usually travelling at higher speeds.
per cent of fatal road collisions between 1996 to 2010 occurred on rural roads.
Farmers are reminded to be cognizant of high traffic times, usually mornings and late afternoons. While it often is impossible to avoid operating on the roads during these times, it may be possible to limit road transportation and if there is a build up of traffic behind farm vehicles pull in and let traffic pass where it is safe to do so .
"It can often lead to drivers taking unnecessary risks and overtaking at the most inopportune times, creating a danger to themselves and to other road users."
Begin to reduce your speed immediately after seeing a slow moving vehicle emblem. Remember at 55 mph, a driver has about four seconds before colliding with a tractor a football field away.
Farm machinery operators may not be able to see you because the large equipment or load can block part of their rear-view mirror. If you can't see the driver, the driver can't see you.
Be extra cautious on wet pavements or when mud and debris from tractor tires are deposited on roadways, creating slippery conditions. On wet roads, stopping distance can be increased as much as five times.
Yield to wide approaching vehicles. Farm equipment is often wider than a normal traffic lane.
It is illegal and very dangerous to pass farm equipment in a no passing area. The relatively slow speed of farm equipment does not make it safe to pass in situations that are not otherwise lawful.
When passing be extra cautious. Tractors and other equipment maybe wider than they look from behind. Machinery that is half on the road and half on the shoulder may suddenly move completely on the road to avoid hitting obstacles such as mailboxes, road signs, and bridges.
Be sure there is adequate distance for you to clear the equipment and pass safely.
Check to be sure the machinery is not turning. Because of the size of today's equipment, farmers often have to make wide left turns. Don't assume that when the equipment veers right, the operator is pulling over for you to pass. The operator is likely preparing to make a wide left turn. Likewise, sometimes to make a right turn, the driver must fade to the left.
Be patient. Farm machinery can't travel at high speeds. While most farmers will move to the side of the road to let traffic pass when they are able to do so safely, Alabama law does not require it.
The next time you find yourself sharing the road with farm equipment, take a moment to appreciate the farmer's life and be thankful for the food they provide. Making good driving decisions will help get you both safely to your destinations.