The fall months mean harvest season for certain crops in Cumberland County, making it commonplace to see farm equipment and other vehicles driving on Pennsylvania’s rural routes.
PennDOT officials said drivers should remain patient and use caution when approaching slow-moving traffic, which is vehicles traveling at a speed of less than 25 miles per hour such as horse-drawn buggies, construction machinery and farm equipment.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau said farm equipment is designed to be used primarily in a field and is not designed to travel at typical highway speeds. Most farm equipment is designed to travel at speeds of 15-25 miles per hour and equipment may be wider than other vehicles, and perhaps even wider than the lane of travel.
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However, farm equipment must be operated on highways to travel between a farm and a field or field to field. Just as motorists are entitled to operate their vehicles on public roadways, farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on these same roadways, the farm bureau said.
According to PennDOT’s 2021 crash data, there were 103 crashes involving farm equipment in 2021, resulting in three fatalities. Overall, there were 27,104 crashes on rural roads in 2021, resulting in 476 fatalities.
Drivers should slow down immediately when seeing a slow-moving vehicle to provide a cushion of safety. In addition, motorists should avoid distracted driving, focus their attention on the road, and be aware of their surroundings.
State Police say it is illegal to pass a farm vehicle in a no-passing zone. Even when passing is permitted, motorists should make sure that there is room to pass safely before entering the opposite lane.
PennDOT officials said do not pass a slow-moving vehicle if:
- You cannot see clearly in front of you and the vehicle you intend to pass
- There are curves or hills in the road ahead
- You are in a designated “No Passing Zone”
- You are within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel
PennDOT officials also said do not assume that a vehicle operator who pulls the vehicle to the right side of the road is turning right or letting you pass. The operator may be swinging wide to execute a left-hand turn.
Drivers should be especially careful at the crest of a hill, around a sharp curve or anywhere else where the line of vision is limited; and they could very suddenly encounter a buggy or slow-moving vehicle.
For more information, visit www.penndot.gov/safety and click on Traffic Safety & Driver Topics.
Email Jeff at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SentinelPratt.