Rural Roads Safety Program

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Pennsylvania has more rural roads than any other state in the country. Especially during springtime, more farmers are driving large equipment on rural roads which, in turn, increases farm machinery accidents. The Rural Roads Safety program was created in 2000 by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. Rural Roads Safety Week, a joint campaign between the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, State Police, and the state departments of Agriculture and Transportation, is designed to educate the general public and farmers about safety concerns on rural roads, particularly in relation to slow-moving vehicles. Additionally, it alerts motorists across Pennsylvania to drive cautiously on rural roads and to slow down when approaching large farm equipment on back roads. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of accidents on rural roads and to save lives.

Hosting a County Farm Bureau RRS Event

County Farm Bureaus typically hold local events of interest and invite the news media to cover these events. 

Here are a few ideas for how your county can support this grassroots program and foster safety on local rural roadways:

  • Send a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining why motorists should exercise caution on rural roads.
  • Host a new conference or similar event in your county highlighting rural roads safety.
  • Share this website and our other Rural Roads Safety Week materials with local news organizations and offer to speak with a reporter about why Rural Roads Safety is important to you and your farm.
  • Share Rural Roads Safety Week tips (or a link to this website) on social media.
  • Record public service announcements for local radio stations.
  • Sponsor a county Rural Roads Safety Week poster or essay contest.

Tips for Drivers and Farmers

For Drivers

* Don’t Rush – If you are driving on rural roads, chances are good that you will encounter farm equipment at some point on your route. Avoid rushing and allow plenty of time to reach your destination safely. This is especially important while traveling during the months between April and November.

* Pass with Care – If the farmer has pulled off the road so that you may pass – or if the farmer does not pull over, but you feel you must pass – do so with caution. Be observant of other vehicles that may try to pass oncoming traffic. Never pass when curves or hills may block your view of oncoming vehicles, you are in a ‘No Passing Zone’ or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure, or tunnel. Also, be careful that the farmer is not pulling to the right to make a wide left turn.

* Be Patient – Farmers are not operating equipment on rural roads to slow you down intentionally – instead farmers are working to provide a safe food supply. Whenever possible, farmers will pull off the road at the first safe opportunity so you can pass.

* SMV = Brake Immediately – The orange triangular Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem warns drivers of a slow vehicle speed. All farm equipment traveling at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less is required to be marked with an SMV emblem. Once you see it, slow down immediately. Remember that it is illegal for any resident of Pennsylvania to display the SMV emblem on permanent, stationary objects such as mailbox posts, driveway entrances, and fences.

* Remain Visible – Don’t assume that the farmer knows that you are driving near his vehicle. While most farmers will check behind them whenever possible, they are often concentrating on keeping their equipment on the road and avoiding oncoming traffic. Before you pass, use your car’s horn to let the driver know where you are. Note that farmers may not be able to hear you over their equipment noise.

*Yield to Wide Vehicles – Sometimes farm equipment is wider than travel lanes. If you approach wide equipment and cannot pass safety, stop. You can then pull off the road, turn around or back away safely so the equipment can pass you. Watch for pilot or escort cars, which help to indicate an oversize vehicle – if you see one, pull off so the vehicle can pass you.

For Farmers

Farmers play a key role in rural road safety too. Here are some tips to alleviate some hazards when taking wide equipment onto the road:

  • Pennsylvania law requires you to place a slow-moving vehicle reflector on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph. Always point the triangle up, keep the SMV emblem clean to maximize reflectivity, and replace the emblem when it fades, normally every 2-3 years.
  • Mark the edges of tractors and machines with reflective tape and reflectors. Consider installing retrofit lighting on older machinery to increase visibility.
  • Turn on your lights, but turn off your rear spotlights when going onto the road. From a distance, they can be mistaken for headlights.
  • Avoid the highway during rush hours and bad weather. Ensure that you have adequate lighting when driving before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Use pilot cars if you are going a considerable distance. Hang an orange flag out the window of the pilot vehicle.
  • Consider installing mirrors on equipment to enable you to be aware of motorists around you.
  • Follow all transportation laws.  To learn more go to PFB’s transportation page