This is the time of year when urban dwellers take to country roads for leaf peeping, wine tasting and fall festivals. It's also the time of year when growers are hurrying to finish harvest before the first frosts and rain, increasing the potential for accidents. 

Dee Jepsen, an Ohio State University Extension state safety leader in Columbus, emphasizes the importance of road safety as farmers and motorists share  the road during harvest season. 

"Harvest season generally is a time when there is an increase in collisions between farm equipment and other vehicles," Jepsen said in a news release. "Vehicle collisions are often the result of the speed differential between slower-moving farm equipment and passenger cars and trucks. Many times the passenger vehicle driver simply doesn't have enough time to react if they do not recognize the farm equipment soon enough." 

Farmers can take steps to enhance farm machinery visibility. Before traveling on public roads, remember to: 

• Lock brake pedals. 
• Adjust mirrors for good vision. 
• Make sure that all warning flashers, lights, and slow moving vehicle emblems are in proper operating condition, clean, and easily visible. If they are covered with dust, wipe them off before leaving the  field. 
• Check tire inflation pressures. Inflate the tires to the maximum recommended pressure for long-distance travel. 

When traveling on public roads: 
• Watch for potholes or obstacles that could tip the tractor. 
• Listen for cars. Often vehicles will rapidly approach from the rear at  three to four times the speed of the tractor. 
• Stay alert at all times to avoid a serious accident. Do not use the cell phone or two-way radio while operating equipment on public roads. 
• Keep a constant lookout for pedestrians, animals, mailboxes, steep ditch embankments and other roadway obstacles. 
• Slow down for sharp curves or when going down a hill. 
• Consider using an escort vehicle to follow behind. 
• 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. 

Other safety recommendations include: 
•  Slow-moving farm machinery traveling less than 25 miles per hour should display a slow moving vehicle emblem on the back of the equipment. This is a quickly identifiable sign to other motorists. Place the slow-moving vehicle sign, mounted point up, on the vehicle 2 to 6 feet above the ground and as near to the rear center as possible. 
• Make sure the tractor has the following lighting and signage: two headlights; at least one tail lamp, mounted on the left side facing the rear of the tractor; at least two amber warning lights, visible from front and rear, mounted at the same level at least 42 inches above ground level; at least two red reflectors, visible from the rear and mounted on either side; and amber warning extremity lights, visible from front and rear, mounted over dual- or triple-wheeled vehicles.    

To subscribe to the print version of The Grower, click here.