Follow rules when operating tractor; safety, paying attention can save lives Spring field work places more farm machinery on public roads and makes it all the more important to drive safely, a South Dakota State University specialist said.
SDSU Extension farm machinery and safety specialist Dick Nicolai said producers must be aware of other motorists, their equipment, and their loads while transporting seed, fertilizer, chemicals and equipment to and from fields. He offered several "rules of the road" to make this spring a safe one on South Dakota's public roads.
1. Always display slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems. These familiar reflective emblems tell other motorists you're around and to be careful.
It's also South Dakota law. SMV emblems tell other drivers that you're traveling less than 25 miles and hour, and that they need to use extra caution when approaching or passing you. Faded or dirty SMV emblems aren't as visible to other motorists so you're really not getting the protection you need on public roads. Take a minute to check that SMV emblems are clean, in good condition and not faded or white-looking, and properly attached to tractors and wagons. It could save your life.
2. Be aware of other motorists. Pull to the side of the road to allow other motorists to pass only when it is safe to do so. Soft or uneven shoulders can cause you to tip.
3. Let motorists know your intentions. Signal before you turn. When using hand signals, make clear definitive motions. Motorists following you may think you're pulling over to allow them to pass, when you may be making a wide left turn. Give yourself plenty of time to turn. Be patient, even if you're in a hurry. You have more time to react than do oncoming motorists.
4. Use caution when entering or leaving all public roads. Understand the situation. Tractors hauling heavy machinery do not accelerate very fast and may be able to travel only 10 miles per hour.