Five Strategies for Safer Roading of Farm Equipment
In many areas, ag equipment like tractors, combines, and grain carts will soon take to the road for harvest. Farm equipment is large and slow-moving, especially compared to other vehicle traffic, and poses some unique challenges when operating on the road. Luckily, there are steps farmers can take to reduce the risk of accidents, protect their equipment, and ensure the safety of operators.
Below are some best practices for safely roading ag equipment—whether you’re driving a harvester in fall or pulling a planter in spring.
Five Tips for Safely Roading Farm Equipment
1. Plan Ahead
Yogi Berra, famous New York Yankee (and raconteur), once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else,” which is great advice for roading farm equipment. Before hitting the road, plan ahead and inspect your route in advance, keeping an eye out for potential threats like low power lines, narrow bridges, railroad crossings, weak shoulders, and washed-out areas. It’s also a good idea to get a feel for local traffic patterns and avoid traveling at peak times or avoid traveling busy roads altogether, if possible.
2. Make Yourself Visible
One of the best steps you can take to improve safety while driving farm equipment on the road is to make your machine visible. While every state has its own laws about signage, lights, and reflectors, in general, you’ll want to:
- Have a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem that’s properly mounted, clean, and visible (if it’s faded, replace it)
- Ensure all your lights—headlights, taillights, turn signals, and flashing amber lights—are working correctly before hitting the road
- Outline equipment with reflective tape at its widest points
- Consider adding taillights to towed equipment
Many farmers will run their rear spotlights while roading—you may think this makes your equipment more noticeable, but it can have the opposite effect and trick motorists into thinking they see headlights. One of the best strategies for ensuring the visibility of ag equipment on the road is also one of the simplest: travel during the day whenever possible.
3. Take Your Time and Stay Alert
Events like planting and harvest are time-sensitive and you often have just a small window to accomplish a ton of work. That said, take your time and maintain control of your equipment at all times. Follow posted speed limits, adjust how fast you drive to road conditions, and take turns cautiously. Stay focused on the road and maintain awareness of any potential hazards. If you think driving a few mph slower is going to put you behind schedule, imagine the delay an accident will cause.
4. Respect Other Road Users
Everyone on the road is trying to get somewhere, whether it’s home after work or to another field. If there is a line of vehicles piling up behind you, pull over and let them pass when it’s safe to do so. Make sure to communicate your intentions on the road—many farmers will use their equipment’s signals in combination with hand signals to help motorists understand what they’re doing.
5. Follow the Rules of the Road
Different places have different laws and regulations for driving farm equipment on the road. Make sure to know (and follow) local requirements, display the appropriate signage, and adhere to any weight restrictions.
In addition to following the rules specific to driving farm machinery on the road, it’s also imperative to follow the rules of the road. This includes:
- Stopping at stop signs
- Yielding at yield signs
- Obeying the speed limit
- Using turn signals
- Wearing a seatbelt
While it’s common for farm children to ride in ag equipment with family members, you should avoid the practice unless your machine is equipped with another seat and accompanying safety equipment, like a seatbelt. Children are considerably more likely than adults to die as a result of falling from a tractor and being run over—approximately 90% of such fatalities happen with children under 15 years old.
Tire Tips for Safely Roading Farm Equipment
Farm tires also contribute to the safety of farm equipment while roading. Before taking it to the streets:
Visually Inspect Tires
Inspect the tires on any machine that will touch the road—including towed equipment—and look for signs of damage. It’s a lot easier and significantly safer to replace a tire in the barn than it is on the side of the road.
Understand Your Tire’s Speed and Load Ratings
Use your tire manufacturer’s speed and load ratings to ensure you don’t exceed the maximum speed the tire can safely travel or push a tire past its carrying capacity—both of which can cause big problems on the road.
Inflate to Proper Pressure
The best thing you can do to enhance the performance and safety of your tires is to inflate them to the proper pressure. Radial tires require higher pressures when roading than they do for fieldwork—it enables them to put their optimal footprint on the road, more effectively dissipate heat, provide the most control, and deliver the best possible ride. Before driving farm equipment on the road, make sure to inflate tires to the optimal level for road travel.
Central tire inflation systems (CTIS) offer an easy solution for increasing tire pressure for roading and decreasing it for fieldwork—they allow operators to adjust tire pressure from the comfort of their cab with the push of a button.
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires’ Alliance brand offers a wide range of application-specific tires designed to provide high performance, long service, and low total cost of ownership. Our Alliance Agriflex+ VF tires deliver both in the field and on the road. In the field, they can operate at lower inflation pressures than conventional radials (up to 40% less), allowing them to help reduce compaction caused by heavy ag equipment; on the road, their steel-belted construction, flexible sidewalls, and wide footprint efficiently dissipate heat—the number one enemy of tires.
If your farm equipment spends as much time on the road as it does in the field, you’ll want to check out tires like our Alliance Agriflex+ 372 CFO. The Agriflex+ 372 features an R-1W tread pattern that provides superior traction in the field and is able to travel at high speeds on the road. The Agirflex+ CFO is designated for cyclic field operations, like harvest, where the load it carries dramatically increases and decreases. A CFO-designated CFO tire can carry up to 70% more load in the field than a standard radial tire.
Why Choose Alliance Agriflex+ 372 CFO Tires
• VF rating means it can decrease ground pressure by up to 40% to help protect against soil compaction and prevent field damage
• CFO Designation for superior harvest performance
• Stubble Guard compounds resist field damage for less downtime and longer service life
• Steel-belted for increased puncture protection
• D Speed Rating makes them excellent on-road performers capable of traveling at speeds up to 40 mph
• A 10-year warranty demonstrates Alliance’s commitment to delivering high-quality, low-pressure tires farmers can trust
The Agriflex+ 372 CFO is just one of our numerous Agriflex offerings. Alliance’s Whole Farm Concept is a commitment to delivering low-pressure tires to every piece of farm equipment that enters the field. Contact your local Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America dealer or rep today to learn more about Alliance Agriflex+ tires.