We have all experienced inconsiderate and dangerous drivers, but in the agricultural community that risk can be even greater when large, heavy equipment is involved. Recently, a longtime family friend was telling our local branch of Cattlewomen about an experience that happened to her daughter’s friend. Please read the editorial that Annalyn Settelmeyer submitted to the local papers.
Our teenage daughter, niece and their friends are helping on the hay crew this summer. My daughter’s 15 year old friend was driving a tractor and hay tedder through Genoa yesterday. At the main intersection stop sign, her tractor stalled. The tractor has fail safes and is difficult to restart in a fast manner. People behind her were upset started flipping her off, calling her a moron and questioning her parent’s linage. She had never been yelled at or called these names before and got flustered which in turn, exacerbated the situation. She finally managed to get the tractor going and headed to Jacks Valley.
I grew up near Genoa and was ashamed of such bully-like behavior. I would like to invite them to come drive a tractor. People often talk about moving to the area because of the rural lifestyle, green open spaces, cattle and eagles in the fields. We are an agriculture based community and you will often see farm equipment. This summer while you’re traveling around the valley, please remember we farmers and ranchers have a narrow window to get hay crops up for our cattle and hay customers. This means more motorists and farming equipment sharing the roads.
According to the National Safety Council 1/3 of all tractor accidents happen on public roads. Farm equipment moves slowly. A car traveling 55 mph toward a tractor can close a gap the length of a football field (300 ft.) in FIVE seconds. Our equipment is only moving 15 mph so please slow down as soon as you see a farm implement and the slow moving equipment sign. Our equipment is heavy and difficult to stop. We need room, don’t assume we can see you. We don’t have the opportunity to move off the edge of the roads safely allowing others to get by.
The key to safety with farm equipment: caution and patience. Please slow down. Don’t follow too closely. Never cut between the equipment and the escort vehicle if there is one, the escort is there to protect you and us. Don’t pass until it is clearly safe. Often it will be difficult or impossible to see where we are entering a field. Please pay attention to our blinkers and hand signals. Yes, when making that turn we do have to swing wide. Yield to large wide equipment coming the opposite direction as well, our equipment is heaver and bigger than most passenger vehicles.
We understand we are delaying you, but please understand we don’t want to be on the road any more than we have too. We are being as careful as we can. The main issue is when others are impatient. We have to move in a diligent way to remain safe. We are doing our jobs in proving food for our families and yours. Please remember, it is someone’s dad, mom, son or daughter driving that tractor. We are your neighbors, your kids coach, your politician, your church member, and your pharmacist’s daughter. We share a community together, please, for a short window each year, share the roads with us as well. We love our teenage daughter, niece and their friends who are working hay crews this summer and are passing on not only a tradition, but a lifestyle that has been in this valley for generations. Thank you so much!
If you ever encounter a piece of agricultural equipment, a combine, or livestock in the road please proceed with caution. These pieces of equipment are large and heavy, they cannot stop quickly. Ask yourself if passing the agricultural equipment in a dangerous spot is worth dying for or killing someone else? Is something so important that you can’t wait a couple more minutes to pass?
Dr. Lindsay can also be found on: