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Stay safe during and after national farm safety and health week

EAST LANSING, MI. — Protecting agriculture’s future is the theme for the 2022 national farm safety and health week which started on September 18 and goes through September 24, 2022. Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first national farm safety week proclamation in 1944, the third week of September has been recognized as the annual observance to remind farmers and others involved in agriculture to be safe.

This recognition and annual promotion was initiated by the National Safety Council (NSC) and has now shifted to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, the agricultural partner of NSC, serving the agricultural family and business community since 1997.  

Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor shows that the agriculture sector is still one of the most dangerous in America. Fall harvest time is one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry and diminishing daylight hours makes working conditions more hazardous. Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns, has been a leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers.

All motorists should be alert for the triangular slow moving vehicle emblem which is required by law to be affixed to the rear of all tractors, combines and implements of husbandry. In addition to a slow moving vehicle emblem, additional red reflectors on the outboard edges are required on any implement of husbandry, farm tractors, combines or other agricultural vehicles or mobile equipment.  

With schools in session there are more cars on the roads, both early and late in the day, some with inexperienced drivers. Neither operators of farm equipment or persons in motor vehicles should be using portable electronic equipment while driving. They should be paying attention to the traffic and hazards on the road.

According to the 2019 Michigan Farm Bureau Farmer’s Transportation Guidebook, following are some traffic and safety reminders.

• Farm equipment has a right to use public roads, though operators must keep their equipment on (their side) of the road. Mailboxes, bridges, drainage ditches and other roadside obstructions will limit the ability of farm equipment to drive on the shoulder of the road.  

• Tractors, combines and implements of husbandry must be operated to the right of the center of the roadway, when approaching the crest of a grade or upon a curve in the highway where the driver’s view is obstructed, may not be operated left of the center line whenever headlights are required and must be operated in a manner to minimize the interruption of traffic flow. 

• A slow moving vehicle emblem and additional red reflectors on the outboard edges are required on any implement on husbandry, farm tractors, modified agriculture vehicle or special mobile equipment.

• The use of the slow moving vehicle emblem is prohibited on any other vehicle or stationary object. It is NOT legal to use slow moving vehicle emblems to mark driveways, mailboxes or for any other use other than for implements of husbandry on a public road. 

• Michigan restricts the number of trailers that may be towed. A farm tractor is limited to two farm wagons. A pickup truck or straight truck may tow only one farm wagon or other trailer.

• Tarping is not required in the transport of agricultural commodities in a farm truck or implement of husbandry in the normal operation of a farm. However, spillage is not allowed in an amount that interferes with other traffic on the highway. Spillage gets more complicated when dealing with hay, straw, silage or residue from a product, but not including the product itself.

• Farm tractors are not exempt from the safety chain requirement of the Michigan motor vehicle code when drawing another implement on the road.

With the boundaries of rural and urban Monroe County and southeast Michigan blending more and more every day, it is important for all motorists to be aware of and cautious of farm equipment on the roads.