Delaware Soybean Farmers Urge Neighbors to “Share the Road”

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The Delaware Soybean Board reminds motorists how to safely share the road with farm equipment during the busy harvest season.

The Delaware Soybean Board consists of nine farmer-directors and the Secretary of Agriculture, and administers the federal soybean checkoff programs in the state.

The Delaware Soybean Board consists of nine farmer-directors and the Secretary of Agriculture, and administers the federal soybean checkoff programs in the state.

A little bit of patience goes a long way in making sure everyone, and their vehicles, share the road safely.

Harvest season is kicking into gear, which means large pieces of farm equipment and heavy farm trucks will be heading down Delaware roads. Farmers have a legal right to operate farm equipment on public roadways, and they ask other drivers to exercise patience, courtesy and caution to avoid accidents.

“Most farmers try to schedule the movement of combines and other large, slow-moving pieces of equipment for times when few other people are on the road,” says Travis Hastings, chairman of the Delaware Soybean Board, who farms in Laurel, Del. “However, sometimes we just can’t avoid it and have to share the road.”

Farm machinery and equipment that travels at 25 miles per hour (mph) or less should display a “slow moving vehicle” emblem on the rear when traveling on public roads. Motorists should slow down as soon as they see the triangular orange sign with the red, reflective border.

That’s because a car traveling 55 mph requires roughly 224 feet to stop on dry pavement, assuming average reaction time. A car traveling 55 mph can close a 300-foot gap – the length of a football field – between it and a tractor moving at 15 mph in about five seconds. “If you do not begin to slow as soon as you see a farm vehicle or equipment, you might not have time to avoid a collision,” Hastings says.

“When we see you, if possible, we try to pull off the road to allow you to pass. But our equipment is heavy, so it’s not always possible to pull over on a soft shoulder. A little bit of patience goes a long way in making sure everyone, and their vehicles, share the road safely.”

According to a 2003 study cited by the National Agricultural Safety Database, two out of every 100 crashes involving tractors, which may or may not be towing other farm equipment, and one out of every 100 crashes involving other farm equipment leads to a traffic death.

Delaware farmers are required to pull over as soon as it is safe to do so when five or more vehicles are behind their equipment.

Motorists can avoid accidents by:

Remembering that large equipment may make wide turns, including swinging to the right before making a left. Look for lights and hand signals from the farmer, and do not assume they are pulling to the right to allow you to pass.

Keeping a safe distance behind farm equipment so that farmers can see you. Equipment may be loud, and if you can’t see the farmer and his or her mirrors, he or she cannot see you.

Driving defensively on rural roads. This time of year, tall crops can obscure visibility.

Delaware’s 2,500 farm families manage 39 percent of Delaware’s land base in farms or woodlands.

Delaware farmers plant about 180,000 acres of soybeans each year, and the crop generates approximately $60 million in value to the state. Delaware’s agricultural industry contributes about $8 billion per year to the Delaware economy.

The Delaware Soybean Board consists of nine farmer-directors and the Secretary of Agriculture, and administers the federal soybean checkoff programs in the state. Under the soybean checkoff, one half of one percent of the net market value of soybeans is assessed at the first point of sale to support research, marketing and education programs to benefit the soybean industry.

About Delaware Soybean Board: The Delaware Soybean Board administers soybean checkoff funds for soybean research, marketing and education programs in the state. One-half of the checkoff funds stay in Delaware for programs; the other half is sent to the United Soybean Board. To learn more about the Delaware Soybean Board, visit http://www.desoybeans.org.

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Susanne Zilberfarb
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