Pennsylvania Farmers Highlight Rural Road Safety

Jim Rexroth knows what happens when drivers don’t pay attention to large farm equipment traveling on rural roads.

The Lower Windsor Township farmer and his employees at Rexroth Farms have been involved in “small fender benders” several times in the past couple years, he said.

“It was things like farm equipment turning left as a car was trying to pass or a car underestimating the width of something,” he said. “We’d like to prevent these kinds of things if we can.”

Wednesday, Rexroth and several officials from various organizations came together at Rexroth Farms to talk about safety on the roads as planting season begins.

There were 92 crashes and four fatalities on Pennsylvania’s roadways involving farm equipment, said Mike Keiser, an engineering executive with PennDOT. By sharing the roads and being patient, drivers can prevent most of these crashes.

“We have to share the roads with a lot of different things,” Keiser said. “We’re all out there together.”

Farmers – who are allowed to drive their equipment on the roads – will often try to get out of the way when they can, but they need drivers to be patient and wait for equipment to find a place to pull over, said Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and a farmer from Columbia County.

“We’re aware we’re slowing down traffic,” he said.

But farmers also need to extra take precautions and make sure they’re doing everything they can to avoid accidents on the road, Rexroth said. The farm “spares no expense” when it comes to adding flashers and lights to their large equipment to alert other vehicles of their presence on the road and avoids traveling during peak driving hours, he said.

“We don’t want to be on the road during (busy) times,” he said.