With autumn’s annual fall harvest season here, it’s worth sharing that Ionia County Farm Bureau recently held an ag-based tour for non-ag guests, with one stop being to demonstrate what a farmer sees – and doesn’t see – while seated in the cab of a farm implement. In this case, a large sprayer.
Amanda Teachworth, MFB State P&E board member from district four, and a member of Ionia County Farm Bureau, shared with the group why it’s important to understand some of the visual restrictions farmers face. “We parked a car behind the sprayer and had our guests sit in the seat in the sprayer cab to show them the visual limitations. Even with large mirrors that stick way out, many implements of husbandry are very high, and you can’t always see what’s around you. Hopefully they gained an appreciation for those challenges and can share what they learned with their others, especially young drivers, so they can be more patient when encountering tractors, combines, and other large farm machinery. At the same time, farmers are well aware of the visual challenges, so many are very selective about who they allow to drive their equipment, mainly because of its value.”
So if farm equipment is so big, how can anyone miss it? Craig Anderson, Ag Labor and Safety Services Manager at Michigan Farm Bureau, says that along with blind spots, drivers aren’t expecting it to be there. “Most of us have seen those truck stickers, “If you can’t see me, I can’t see you.” This concept holds true for farm and other equipment regardless of where it is operated. Blind spots are significantly larger for farm and other equipment. Trucks are typically moving in one direction down the highway and have few direction changes. Farm and other equipment is far more likely to change direction often and be operated in the direction of blind spots. Regardless of the type, size or location of operating equipment the safest place to be is in a location where you can see the operator’s eyes.”
At any time of the year, especially during planting and harvest season, drivers may encounter implements of husbandry (tractors, combines, sprayers, etc) with orange triangles on the back. There known as SMV’s, for slow moving vehicle. By law, they have to be attached to farm equipment traveling no more than 25 mph on public roadways. And while SMV emblems are widely available for purchase, their only legal use in Michigan is on the back of designated vehicles that may present a hazard. Misuse of SMV emblems, such as used as a marker at the end of a driveway, is a violation of the state motor vehicle code.