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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

May 9, 2024 - 12:54pm --


Springtime on Rural Roads

Spring planting season is well under way across the State of Ohio.  Farmers are taking advantage of every window of opportunity the weather allows to get seeds in the ground.

Combine the spring planting equipment on the road and increased rural motor vehicle traffic in Union County and all areas of the state and we have an increased risk of incidents on local roadways.

In the period from 2009-2018 over half of the farm fatalities in Ohio were related to tractor use (OSU Extension Ag Safety & Health, Farm Fatality and Injury Database for Ohio).  Of these tractor related fatalities, around 14% were the result of a roadway collision.  In 2023 alone, the total number of incidents between farm units (farm equipment and farm trucks) and motor vehicles in Ohio was 481 (Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio Traffic Crash Facts).  Of these 481 incidents, 9 resulted in fatalities and 115 resulted in injuries.  While this total is down significantly from 2022 when there were 561 crashes, it is still cause for consideration. 

Distracted driving is a continued concern on local roadways.  It is important to remember closure time when coming up behind slow moving vehicles.  In less than 7 seconds, a motor vehicle traveling 55 mph will close 400 feet behind a tractor traveling 15 mph.

Aggressive driving is not unique to motor vehicles versus motor vehicles.  Impatience regarding slow moving vehicles leads to unsafe passing and increased risk to all on the roadways.

Being aware and anticipating farm equipment actions on the roadway will help decrease the risk of collisions.  When approaching from the rear, watch for signals from the operator whether it be a yellow turn signal or hand signal.  With larger equipment, often it is difficult for the operator to see traffic coming from behind.  Watch for upcoming farm and field drives where the operator may be turning before attempting to pass.  If you are preparing to meet a piece of equipment, watch for guardrails, mailboxes, and road signs that may prevent the operator from getting over far enough to meet safely.

Farm equipment operators can do their part by ensuring their safety lighting and marking equipment are clean and functional.  Using escort vehicles in both the front and rear may increase visibility and keep the operator in communication of upcoming hazards or situations while moving from farm to farm.  Finally, when possible, attempt to move equipment at off-peak motor vehicle travel times.

Union County and all of Ohio values it’s farming heritage and rural landscape.  We need to enjoy the view, watch out for farm equipment, and stay safe.

For more information, please call Wayne Dellinger at the Union County Extension Office at 937-644-8117 or email