Dee Jepsen, Professor and State Agricultural Safety Leader
Taking a drive through the countryside can be an enjoyable leisure activity. When you drive as part of your job, it takes on additional attention towards safety and roadway courtesy. For agronomists employed with an agricultural business, it may also mean abiding by a company policy. This article serves as a reminder for consultants and others who drive and frequently park in rural areas, related to crop scouting activities.
Always check with your employer for policy regarding vehicle operation. While each company may vary, some of the common rules may include:
• Restrictions on the number of persons permitted in a company vehicle or persons permitted to drive a company vehicle.
• Drivers are bound to follow all traffic laws, i.e wearing a seat belt, following posted speed limits, signaling when making turns, never carrying passengers in the cargo area of pickup trucks, and others.
• Refrain from any type of distracted driving, which includes phone calls, texting, and computer use.
Best practices for courteous vehicle operation:
Customer relations is an important aspect of the job. Being considerate of your driving and parking habits goes a long way for your clients.
• Drive slowly when entering their driveways and barn lots. A speed of 5mph is a good rule of thumb, but even that may be too fast if there are poor driveway conditions, children, workers, livestock or pets on the premises.
• Do not park in barnyard areas that affect normal traffic patterns of the driveway or block access to farm buildings and homestead areas.
• When parking on the roadway, do your best to pull completely off the roadway. Park in high visibility areas avoiding curves or dips in the road that obstruct the sight line.
• Use flashing lights to warn of a parked vehicle along the roadway when this is a short-term stop. Be aware of how long you leave on the flashers, as it will affect your vehicle’s battery life.
• For longer parking stops, look for an area of a field where there is semi access designed for vehicles. Pay attention to field conditions, i.e water-logged areas, holes, and fence lines.
• Know the property lines when assessing fields and avoid parking and/or driving on property of other owners.
• Consider backing the vehicle into areas that you will want to pull out of later. This is especially helpful when accessing field driveways from a public road.
• Identify fields or farms that are centralized to the area(s) you want to access. Find a place that you know is safe from other moving vehicles and secure from possible theft.
When accessing a field that is actively utilized by the farm operation, consider these practices:
• Stand clear of field equipment and field operations.
• Know and utilize hand signals to communicate with equipment operators.
• Be cautious of fields that had recent spray applications and adhere to posted re-entry interval signage.
Roadway safety for agronomist scouts is an important component to keep injuries low and property damage at a minimum. As field activity picks up for the 2022 crop season, be aware of operating your motor vehicle in a safe and courteous manner on every drive.
This article is provided by the OSU Agricultural Safety and Health Program. Dee Jepsen, Professor, can be reached at email@example.com; and Lisa Pfeifer, Program Manager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website can be accessed at https://agsafety.osu.edu/