SIDNEY — Is spring finally here? That’s the wish Shelby County farmers wants to see come true.
“The farmers are about two to three weeks behind schedule,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart. “That’s because of the way the weather has been. Once everything gets dry and we have some sunshine, you’re going to be seeing lots of farm equipment on the road.”
Lenhart said agriculture is the No. 1 business in Shelby County. Because of this, there needs to be a spirit of cooperation between farmers and other drivers on the county roads.
“Safety is my main concern,” said Lenhart. “There were 125 farmers or ranchers killed last year across the nation. There were six last year in Ohio. We had one in Shelby County.
“There were 75 persons who were seriously injured in Ohio and one in Shelby County in 2017,” he said.
Lenhart said one of the major reasons there are crashes involving vehicles and tractors is the varying speeds of the two entities.
“A car approaching a tractor can be on top on them very quickly,” said Lenhart. “The driver of the car has a very small amount of time to recognize there is a hazard in front of them.”
All tractors and trailers, he said, must have a slow moving vehicle sign attached to it. The triangle sign must be visible from 450 feet away.
“Farmers must take care to brush the dust off the sign,” said Lenhart. “They have to keep it clean because after a day or two in the field, it will get dusty. I’ve seen some signs that are faded and damaged. The farmers need to replace them with new ones.”
All tractors, he said, should be equipped with headlights, red tail lights, reflectors and flashing amber lights.
“Turn signals are not required by law,” said Lenhart, “but it’s still good to have them.”
Each tractor should have a safety-type hitch pins and safety chains from the tractor to the farm equipment the farmer is pulling.
“Make sure the tires are all inflated,” said Lenhart. “If there’s a cut in it, the tire needs to be replaced.”
Lenhart said the right wheel brake and the left wheel brake should be put together when the farmer is driving on the road so he or she is hitting both brakes at the same time.
“In the field it doesn’t matter because they’re going to be doing a lot of turning,” said Lenhart.
Each tractor should also be equipped with rear-view mirrors, flares, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
“They should confirm that all lights are operating correctly before going on the road,” said Lenhart. “The farmer should also avoid being on busy roads whenever possible even if it takes them longer to get from point A to point B. I recommend they stay off the roads between 3 and 5 p.m. when residents are going home from work.”
Lenhart said the farmers should be operating the tractor at a speed where they can maintain control at all times. This will usually be between 20 and 25 mph.
City friends, said Lenhart, will soon form a parade behind the tractors because of the slower speed.
“The farmer should find a safe spot to let all the folks go around him,” said Lenhart. “But the farmer needs to be aware of hazards such as a road’s soft shoulders or narrow bridges on the county roads.”
Lenhart recommends farmers move their equipment during the daytime hours.
“If you are traveling at night,” said Lenhart, “remember to have all the lighting working. If I have to drive my tractor at night, either my wife or daughter follow me in a car or truck with its flashing lights on.”
Lenhart said all farmers and city friends must share the roads with courtesy and patience toward one another.
“And to my farmer friends, you’ll have some long hours in the fields,” said Lenhart. “Take a cat nap so you stay fresh all day.”
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.