Article Contributed by
Office of the Chautauqua County Executive
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan recently visited John Wiggers & Son New Holland Dealership in Clymer to announce safety tips on sharing the road with slow-moving vehicles as part of his 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign.
“When traveling across our beautiful rural countryside it is easy to become caught up in its tranquility,” said Horrigan. “However, vigilance is the watch word as cars share the road with slow-moving farm equipment and Amish buggies pulled by horses, which can become spooked by passing cars. Please give them extra room and slow down.”
When traveling through the countryside and agricultural communities, drivers may frequently encounter buggies, tractors and other slow-moving vehicles.
A reflective orange triangle is the symbol of a slow-moving vehicle. This symbol must be displayed on the back of vehicles drawn by animals and most farm vehicles and construction equipment. Drivers should use caution when approaching a slow-moving vehicle and make sure it is safe before they pass.
Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace said, “Tragedies involving slow-moving vehicles occur each year on our roadways. Drivers must exercise due care at all times, but be especially aware of the potential of slow-moving vehicles sharing the highway. Slow down immediately when you see a vehicle or equipment with a slow-moving vehicle emblem displayed. Increase following distance to create a safety cushion, be alert and watch for turns into fields. Drive courteously and pass with care only when it is safe and legal to do so. Remember, it is unlawful to sound your horn when approaching or passing a horse on a public highway.”
Ed Faulkner, who works at John Wiggers and Son New Holland Dealership and is the Clymer Fire Chief, said, “I have been called to the scene of fatal accidents involving buggies and motor vehicles. One accident is one too many. Tractors and buggies must use the same roads that motor vehicles use. It is important that we all take responsibility for sharing the road safely.”
When passing a horse-drawn vehicle, drivers should remember that horses may be unpredictable and even the most road-safe horses can be spooked by fast-moving motor vehicles. Drivers should slow down, and when it is safe and legal to pass, they should give the buggies or horse-drawn equipment plenty of room. It is important to remember that drivers must yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles and ensure oncoming traffic is far enough ahead to safety complete the pass. Drivers should never try to pass near the top of a hill or around a bend where their view of oncoming traffic is blocked.
When passing a tractor, drivers should be aware that the operator may not be able to hear them approaching and if the tractor is pulling large loads of hay or other equipment, the operator might not be able to see vehicles behind him.
Drivers should also anticipate buggies or tractors making left turns into fields or driveways. Be conscious of gates, driveways or access roads on the left that may indicate a left turn. It may also appear that a tractor is stopping beside the road or turning right, but the tractor could be swinging wide to make a left turn.
Drivers should also slow down when approaching bends and the tops of hills as they can block a driver’s view of a tractor or buggy just ahead. When talking with Pete James, owner of Chautauqua Transportation Services, Inc. and Traffic Safety Board member, he stressed the importance of drivers being able to stop within their field of sight. Regardless of the posted speed limit, drivers must be thinking about their sight line, and slow their speed when approaching a hill or curve in the road.
Shelly Wells, Public Health Planner at the Chautauqua County Health Department, said, “Chautauqua County rural roads are shared by multiple users, and it is absolutely necessary to drive with the anticipation that you might encounter a buggy, tractor, bicycle, or pedestrian as you crest the next hill.”
“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County supports the efforts of County Executive Horrigan to promote safety education to those involved in agriculture,” said Emily Reynolds, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. “Operating farm equipment, as well as other slow moving vehicles including Amish buggies, on the farm and on the road, can be very hazardous. To ensure the safety of members of our agricultural communities and the public traveling our rural roads, all need to be better informed of the risks and actions to take to avoid accidents.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County agriculture program staff will be offering educational opportunities this fall on Farm Safety for anyone interested. Topics will include: Safely Operating Farm Equipment, Farmstead Emergency Preparedness, Operating Farm Equipment and Trucks Safely and Legally on Roadways, Animal and Manure Handling Safety, and Farm Insurance. All current farm owners, their family members and employees, beginning farmers, and members of our Amish communities are encouraged to participate in an upcoming farm and equipment safety educational program.
There are also educational resources and on-farm safety trainings available at little or no cost provided by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH). Experienced educators from NYCAMH will be involved in the upcoming Farm Safety educational programs to be organized by local Cornell Cooperative Extension staff.
The 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign was announced by Horrigan in May and it challenges residents to practice safety from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. During the months of June, July, and August, he will partner with county officials to raise awareness about important safety tips and precautions for residents and visitors to take while they enjoy family vacations and recreational activities this summer.
“By making safety a top priority this summer, residents can help do their part in preventing tragedies such as automobile, motorcycle, bicycle or boating accidents,” said Horrigan. “Residents are encouraged to make it their mission to be responsible, be aware of their surroundings, address safety issues and educate others on practicing safety. By stressing safety during these summer months, it is my hope that residents will get into the habit of making safety their number one priority and continue to practice safety all year long.”
For more information on Farm Safety resources and the upcoming programs, please contact Lisa Kempisty, Extension Educator, Dairy/Livestock at (716) 664-9502 ext. 203 or email@example.com.