UGA Extension – Jasper County Agricultural & Natural Resources

Georgia's Deer Capital

Ag. Safety Awareness Day 5: Driver Space

Today’s topic is highway safety. As the interface between urban areas have migrated into traditionally rural areas, there are much more interactions between tractors and combines on the highway and fast moving automobiles. This has lead to an increase in tractor and car accidents in recent years. Here are some tips if driving or carrying agricultural equipment on the highway:

  1. Always use a slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem when driving equipment on the highway.
  2. One of the most common causes of accidents on public roads is when motorists attempt to pass a SMV. In many cases, motorists will mistakenly believe the farm operator is turning right when he is actually swinging to the right to make a left turn. Motorists can mistake the initial right turn for an opportunity to pass on the left side and cause a collision.
  3. Use pilot vehicles with flashing lights behind the tractor to alert motorists and keep them from getting too close, and use two-way radios to communicate with the pilot vehicle.
  4. Pull over in a safe and convenient location when the pilot vehicle tells you that there are a number of trailing cars. THe more cars behind, the more anxious they get to pass. Be extremely careful thzt the location you pull over at is wide enough and secure enough for your tractor.
  5. Be especially cautious in foggy weather, which usually occurs early in the morning. Visibility is reduced and motorists can come up fast before seeing you.
  6. If transporting equipment on a trailer, be very careful to fully secure the equipment and to adjust all vehicle mirrors so you have a clear view of traffic around you. After a few miles, stop and check the chains/straps to see if they have come loose. Chains are especially susceptible to becoming loose. Re-tighten where needed.
  7. If moving a cotton picker or module builder, be aware of the height of your machine. Make sure the basket/ packer is lowered. Several cases of downed power lines have occurred from the packer on the module builder being left in the retracted (up) position.
  8. When possible, travel during low traffic periods and when visibility is good.
  9.  Lock the left and right brake pedal together to ensure that a sudden braking maneuver does not cause the tractor to veer left or right.
  10. Check the tractor to make sure all lights and turning signal equipment (when available) are operational. If no signaling equipment is available, use hand signals to warn traffic of your intentions (stopping, turning).

The main take-away is to be visible, and drive defensively. Assume the motorists are going to be aggressive and take measures that make it less likely that they will try to pass you on a 2-lane road (pilot vehicle, time for slow traffic, move over to let pass).

Thanks!  This is the end of ag safey awareness week. I hope to have facebook up and will keep providing information to help you stay safe. Future topics include, ATV safety, harvest safety, health.


Glen C Rains, PhD, PE

Professor – Department of Entomology Adjunct Professor – College of Engineering

University of Georgia – Tifton Campus

Research website –

Agrability Website – @agsafetypeanut