SIDNEY — A partnership of sharing Shelby County roadways is underway between the county’s farmers and vehicle drivers.
“It’s the season for farmers driving on the roadways,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.
Lenhart said Shelby County roads weren’t safe for farmers during 2018 and 2017.
“In 2018, we had a fatal accident,” said Lenhart. “We also had sever people trapped in farm equipment. In 2017, we had a car-vehicle fatal by Botkins and combine fire with personal injuries.”
The average age of farmers involved in crashes is in the 61-70 age group, he said. There have been 25 fatal crashes involving drivers in that age group in Ohio.
“”Eleven young folks in the 11 to 20 age category have been killed in farm-related crashes,” said Lenhart. “Ohio Department of Transportation records the number of fatalities on the roadway and those involved with agribusiness.”
The April weather is a signal that more farm equipment will be on the county’s roads.
“There are 149 miles of state roads in Shelby County,” said Lenhart. “There’s 384 miles of county roads and 304 miles of township roads.
“We have a busy time when a person gets off work or out of school,” said Lenhart. “These people are traveling three sets of roads and there’s a lot of vehicle traffic.”
To the drivers of vehicles, Lenhart offers these tips:
• Stay alert for slow moving vehicles “You can come upon a tractor very quickly,” he said. “If you’re going 55 mph, it takes you 5 seconds to stop 224 feet.
• Most accidents happen when the farmers turn left. Watch for turning signals or hand signals signifying the direction the tractor is going to take at an intersection, driveway or field.
• If you’re passing a tractor, get around it quickly.
“A driver can pass on a single or double yellow line if there’s no traffic coming toward you,” said Lenhart. “But if you get in an accident while passing the tractor, it’ll be your fault.”
• Don’t pass a tractor on a curve or hill. You can’t see oncoming traffic in either of those situations.
• Drivers should keep their attention on the road. Don’t be texting and driving or talking on your cellphone.
And his advice to local farmers?
“We don’t want a July 4 parade out there,” said Lenhart. “The farmer should try to get off the road so all the other vehicles can go around him safely.”
Lenhart also advises farmers that if only one person should be riding in the cab of the tractor they shouldn’t have any passengers with them.
“Don’t travel at dusk or dawn,” said Lenhart to his fellow farmers. “The lighting, size of the equipment and the number of people traveling down the road can cause problems. The farmer should plan to travel after dawn and get home before dusk.
“Driving is a fulltime job,” he said. “You must use patience and caution during the planting and harvest season.”
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.