HARRISBURG – PennDOT Executive Deputy Secretary for Administration Bradley L. Mallory yesterday joined local farmers and officials from the state Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) to highlight Rural Roads Safety Week, which runs through April 19.
The event was held at the Furnace Hill Farm in Lebanon to educate motorists about the importance of driving safely around farm equipment on rural roads. The PFB created Rural Roads Safety Week in 2005 to alert drivers that large, slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment regularly share the road with other motorists on rural roads across the state.
“We must all use caution when driving on rural roads, especially in the spring and summer months when farm vehicles are most common on these roadways,” Mallory said. “We should slow down when approaching large farm equipment and ensure that we avoid distractions, obey traffic laws and remain alert while traveling.”
According to PennDOT data, there were 88 accidents involving farm equipment statewide in 2012, with two people losing their lives in those accidents. Overall, there were more than 36,000 accidents on rural roads statewide last year, with 555 fatalities in those accidents. Rural roads are defined as those that pass through municipalities with populations of fewer than 5,000 people.
“We believe many of these accidents can be prevented if farmers and motorists look out for one another on rural roads. If motorists hear our messages and follow safe driving tips, costly accidents can be avoided and lives can be saved,” PFB President Carl T. Shaffer said.
While motorists are reminded to use caution when sharing the road with farm vehicles, farmers are also advised to be courteous to other drivers. Farm vehicle operators are advised to avoid driving on the road during rush hour traffic when possible and to pull off the road to allow motorists by when they can safely do so.
“It’s necessary and legal for farmers to operate equipment on the roadways to get the job done,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “Farmers and motorists need to work together to share the responsibility of keeping our roads safe.”
“The importance of obeying traffic laws on rural roadways is great,” said State Trooper Adam Reed. “Motorists should exhibit the same level of care and caution on these roads as if they were traveling on the interstate. Rural Roads Safety Week is a great reminder for motorists to do just that.”
For more information or safe driving tips, visit www.JustDrivePA.org.