When Ian Stamy’s farm vehicle slowed, the impatient driver behind him wasn’t going to let an opportunity to pass slip away.
Unfortunately for that driver, Stamy wasn’t stopping. He was turning left.
Stamy clipped the passing vehicle, sending it into an embankment. In the blink of an eye, he became part of an unwelcome statistic: one of the 80-110 crashes involving farm vehicles that occur in Pennsylvania each year. Every time he drives farm equipment on the road, he worries about contributing to crash totals once again.
“It’s extremely stressful,” he said. “You’re going down the roadway trying to watch your equipment to make sure you’re not taking out mailboxes and poles and everything else like that and trying to maintain a safe speed while everybody else is passing.”
On Tuesday, Stamy hosted a news conference on his farm at 1191 Baish Road in Monroe Township. State officials, including Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading, PennDOT District Executive Mike Keiser and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert, reminded motorists on rural roads to be aware of slow-moving farm equipment.
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According to PennDOT, crashes involving farm vehicles have remained steady in recent years. In 2017, the most recent year for official statistics, there were 106 such crashes, including 44 with injuries and five fatalities, Keiser said.
Stamy, though, believes that as the farming community gets smaller, driving gets more dangerous because people have less of an understanding for why farmers need to take bulky equipment on the roadway.
“A lot of people feel that there’s no place for it, but we have to get from Farm A to Farm B,” he said.
State officials said the amount of farm equipment crashes can be reduced if:
- Motorists drive defensively and pay attention. Cars can come upon slow-moving farm equipment quickly after a curve or hill.
- Motorists watch for the fluorescent orange triangle with red border indicating a vehicle that typically travels below 25 miles per hour.
- Farmers double-check their equipment to make sure it meets state standards for the roadway.
It is illegal to pass a farm vehicle in a no-passing zone, State Trooper and Public Information Officer Megan Frazer said. Even when passing is permitted, motorists should make sure that there is room to pass safely before entering the opposite lane.
“Frankly, we believe accidents can be prevented if farmers and motorists look out for one another,” Ebert said in a news release. “When all motorists drive smart, share the road and follow basic safe driving tips, we can prevent accidents and save lives.”
Daniel Walmer covers public safety for The Sentinel. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 717-218-0021.
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