One aspect of rural driving that perhaps of oft-ignored, or at best misunderstood, is the degree to which regular traffic must accommodate not just heavy truck and freight traffic, but farm vehicles as well. This fact is not lost, however, on the Maryland DOT, which has joined the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Farm Bureau in a news release discussing driver safety as motorists traveling Maryland highways and rural roads are sharing the road with farm equipment from one of Maryland’s 12,300 farms.
“Farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on public roadways and there are times when farm vehicles must operate on highways to move between farm and field,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder in the statement. “I encourage all motorists to be patient when traveling on roads near Maryland farms and drive with caution to ensure the safety of motorists and farmers.”
According to published sources, the fall season in particular is a time for increased attention and awareness, as the harvest is coming in, and farm vehicles, as well as boosted freight for harvested crops, are on the road more than ever.
“When traveling this fall along rural routes including major U.S. routes and Maryland arterials, expect to encounter farm equipment on the road as well,” Gregory Slater, administrator of the State Highway Administration, said. “We will place portable electronic signs along major farming routes to remind drivers that the harvest season is here, and that they should approach and pass farm equipment carefully.”
"Maryland farmers are taking every safety precaution available to protect motorists and themselves while traveling in equipment on the roads, including slow-moving vehicle signs, flashing lights and raising all equipment attachments,” said Maryland Farm Bureau President Chuck Fry. “Please help protect the men and women who work hard every day to produce your food, fuel and fiber, especially during this harvest season when there are more combines and farm trucks on the roads."
The Farm Bureau has selected strategic locations to position electronic message signs along Maryland roads, such as U.S. Rte. 301.
Amongst the information the agencies are attempting to push out to the public is the correct method for merging with farm traffic, and what the right-of-way standards are.