Tips For Keeping Both Farmers and Citizens Safe During Harvest

Know The Facts 

Farming can be very dangerous if not done safely. Equipment is big, heavy, and powerful and there are often a lot of things going on at once. In 2012, there were 374 farm related deaths and since then the number has stayed steady across the board. There are 1,854,000 people employed by farms in the U.S. each year thus making the fatality rate for agricultural workers 20.2 per every 100,000 workers. There are 472,000 people under the age of 20 who work on farms each year, and of those, about 113 are killed in farm related accidents. These numbers are not meant to scare anybody, but to inform the general public of just how dangerous farming can be and how serious “farm safety” needs to be taken not only for farmers but for people who encounter farm equipment on the roads as well. To view more statistics about farm related injuries/deaths each year, visit

Citizens: How To Stay Safe During Harvest 

Anybody who lives in a rural community has surely come across some large farm equipment on the road at one time or another this time of year. It is imperative that drivers take extreme caution when meeting a tractor head on and when passing farm equipment. Legally, all farm equipment is required to have an SMV sign on the back of the machine. SMV stands for slow moving vehicle and vehicles with this sign can only travel up to 20-25 miles per hour.

SMV sign on the back of a John Deere combine. Photo taken by Steven Rush

The majority of the time, if you are traveling in a car or truck, you will be going much faster than the tractors that are on the roads. Therefore, drivers need to be patient and aware of farmers and make sure that the operator of the tractor knows somebody is behind them. As we all know, farm equipment is large, heavy and powerful. While most tractors have wide mirrors, it is still difficult to see others directly behind them. When coming up behind a tractor, if you are wanting to pass them, you need to make sure the driver sees you first. Most farmers will slow down and pull over indicating that they see you and it is alright for you to go ahead and pass them. When meeting an oncoming tractor, it is usually best if you pull off to the side the road as far as you can and if the tractor comes to a complete stop, go ahead and proceed past them.

It is important to be cautious around these large machines because if an accident were to occur, both the operator of the tractor and driver of the vehicle can be seriously injured. If drivers take their time and pay attention to these few things, everybody should stay safe on the roadways during the harvest months.

Farmers: How To Stay Safe During Harvest

For those of you who will be climbing in the cab of a tractor this fall, be sure to stay safe as you of all people are aware of how big and powerful farm equipment is. In order to stay safe this fall, there are some tips to help along the way.

Patience – be patient while driving a tractor. As my boss Chad Hensley always says, ” if you have enough time to do something, you have time to do it safely.” The majority of accidents happen when working too fast, trying to do too much, or simply not paying attention, which brings me to my next point.

Pay Attention – when driving a large tractor, especially down the road, do not be on your cell phone, or any other device that  can distract you. Obviously it is not safe to operate a large farm equipment under the influence of alcohol or other mind altering drugs.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings – Tractors are big; humans are small. Be aware of your surroundings, both people and other objects. To help see what is behind you, a camera can be installed on the back of the implement with a screen in the cab of the tractor. Also, radios in each piece of equipment in the fleet can be helpful to communicate.

Photo of a “cab cam”  on a grain cart tractor at Hensley Farms. Photo taken by Steven Rush

Follow Safety Regulations On Tractor – Most tractors have warning signs that tell you what to do and what not to do. Most of these signs can be located inside the cab of the tractor or near the door.


Photo taken by Steven Rush

Photo taken by Steven Rush


Written By:


My name is Steven Rush and I am a senior at Western Illinois University studying Ag science. I am from a small town just west of Springfield, Illinois called Pleasant Plains. My family does not farm, however I am going on my second year of working for Chad Hensley of Bushnell Illinois on his family’s grain farm. My dad, Robert Rush, is a heating and air conditioning technician. My mother, Marianne Rush, is a radiology supervisor at Springfield Clinic Main Campus in Springfield. My sister, Jenny is 16 years old and a sophomore at Pleasant Plains High School. I plan on graduating from Western in the spring of 2017 with a bachelors degree and work for Brandt Consolidated in Auburn Illinois.


4 thoughts on “Tips For Keeping Both Farmers and Citizens Safe During Harvest

  1. mkr23

    A big issue on my home town is that drivers do not understand the dangers that may arise when driving around farm equipment. Its important to remind the drivers to have patience when driving on the road with large machinery. Wait until the “no passing” zone is clear and avoid all possible dangers.


  2. 537bowen

    I love this blog! I drive home almost every weekend on 67. During the harvest season, there are many tractors or grain carts on the road but people just have no patients. People need to understand this because this could cause a serious injury, damage to the equipment or even death. Again, you wrote a great informative blog!


  3. klbeaston

    This was a great, informative blog. So many people do not understand the dangers of being impatient on the road around farm equipment. Growing up surrounded by corn fields, I have always been caught behind machinery. Even when I’m in a hurry, I stop to think that it’s not worth causing an accident when they’re just doing their jobs. I wish more people could understand the dangers of being in a rush around a combine or a grain cart! That could potentially prevent so many accidents!


  4. Great story! Driving a tractor down the road can be a scary experience. I never worry about my driving, it is always the other drivers. People seem to forget the rules of the road when they see a heavy piece of equipment and often make the situation dangerous for all. Thanks for sharing!


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