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PFB, Partners Promote Safe Driving on Rural Roads
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 04/20/2017

As farmers across Pennsylvania return to the fields to plant crops this spring, representatives from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) and the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, State Police and Transportation joined together to promote safe driving on rural roads as part of Rural Roads Safety Week (RRSW), April 16-22.

Eric County farmer Mark Troyer hosted the statewide event on behalf of PFB, which is the state's largest farm organization. "The purpose of Rural Roads Safety Week is to alert drivers that large, slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment are once again traveling on rural roads across the state. We're urging motorists to use caution when approaching farm vehicles and be patient if they are delayed," said Mark Troyer, who plants and harvests 400 acres of potatoes near Waterford and also grows green beans, corn and other grains.

Farm Bureau notes that while it's timely to remind motorists to be cautious now that spring planting is underway, practicing safe driving habits on rural roads is important all year long.

"Drivers need to keep their guard up throughout the planting, growing and harvesting seasons by reducing speed and being more aware of other motorists," said Erie County Farm Bureau President Nick Mobilia, who spoke on behalf of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. "We believe accidents can be prevented if farmers and motorists look out for one another on country roads. If motorists hear our messages and follow safe driving tips, costly accidents can be avoided and lives can be saved."

According to PennDOT's 2016 crash data, there were 89 crashes, including 72 injuries and one fatality that involved farm equipment on rural roads in Pennsylvania and an additional 11 crashes involving farm equipment, with eight injuries and no fatalities in urban areas. In contrast, PennDOT data indicates there were 53,883 crashes on rural roads statewide last year, with 31,750 injuries and 758 fatalities from those crashes.

"PennDOT has no higher priority than safe travel, and we are asking motorists to help us meet the challenge of maintaining safe travel on our rural roads by being especially watchful for farm equipment during this time of year," said Bill Petit, District Executive of PennDOT District 1. "Last year we experienced decreases in the number of crashes in rural areas, as well as in the number of injuries and fatalities associated with those crashes. While that is encouraging, we still have work to do to make rural roads safer, and we all continue to share the responsibility to protect ourselves and our fellow motorists."

Farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on Pennsylvania roads and they must display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) Emblem, which is an orange colored triangle with a red border, on the rear of all vehicles or equipment that consistently travel at speeds of 25 mph or less.

"When driving on rural roads, use caution and be alert for slow moving farm vehicles," said Major Edward Hoke, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. "We urge drivers to slow down and limit distractions when behind the wheel."

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding presented a proclamation from Governor Wolf declaring April 16-22 as Rural Roads Safety Week in Pennsylvania.

"Farming is hard work, but it's an important calling that feeds a hungry world," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. "Sometimes it's necessary for farmers to move large equipment on busy streets or narrow rural roads. Both producers and consumers need to follow state laws to make sure we share Pennsylvania's highways and byways safely."

In addition to the statewide news conference at Troyer Growers in Erie County, several other county Farm Bureaus across Pennsylvania held news events this week to help spread the word about RRSW.

PFB created a brochure with background information and tips for motorists and farmers as part of Rural Roads Safety Week. The brochure can be viewed or downloaded from the following link: www.pfb.com/images/brochures/current-RRS-bro.pdf.

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