© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Farm Vehicles Join Deer and School Buses as Fall Road Risks

Farm crossing sign

It is that time of year when driving in northeast Ohio can get more complicated. School buses are back. Deer and other wildlife are out preparing for winter. And, big, often slow moving, farm vehicles are on the roads for the harvest.

Tractors, combines and farm wagons all tend to be going 15 mph or less, and that’s the problem.  So says David Marrison, director of the Ohio State Ashtabula County Extensionand an expert on farm vehicle safety.

“I don’t think most motorists understand how fast you can approach a tractor from a distance.  A car traveling f55 mph, not speeding, can overtake and close a gap of 300 feet -- the length of a football field --with a tractor going 15 mph in just 5 seconds.”

Speed differential
That’s why most accidents with farm vehicles on the road involve rear-end collisions or sideswipes as drivers try to swerve when they can’t stop. Marrison says the key to safety on rural roads is driver attentiveness. 

Ashtabula Extension Director David Marrison
Credit David Marrison / Twitter
David Marrison says you can come up on farm vehicles far faster than you think.

Right to the road
He also say it helps to expect agricultural vehicles to be out.  To remember that they do have a right to be on the road.  And to recognize that they aren’t delaying you all that much.

“The farmers are working hard, and we both have to share the roads at this time. And, you may think that you’re sitting there behind them forever, but you’re really not. The average time that have to spend behind a farm vehicle as its going down the road is no longer than what it would take you to stop at two stop lights in the middle of a town.”

Marrison also stresses the importance of avoiding driving distractions, like talking on cell phones or texting.