Tips for Farmers and Motorists



Tractor _planting


It's spring and that mean farmers are heading to the fields to plant their crops. Farmers are taking to the roads with large tractors and planters, too. Illinois Farm Bureau asks motorists and farmers to be alert on these busy, rural roads.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 6 out of 10 highway deaths across the U.S. occur on roads that it considers rural, and a large percentage of those involve farming equipment. To help reduce the chance of an accident, Illinois Farm Bureau offers tips for both farmers and motorists.

Tips for Motorist

  • Reduce speed when encountering farm equipment on public roads. Flashing amber lights mean "caution."
  • Slow down when you see the Slow Moving Vehicle Emblem----the orange and red reflective triangle warns you that the tractor or combine travels at a slow rate of speed.
  • Keep a safe distance from the farm equipment so the farmer can see you. If you can't see his mirrors, he can't see you.
  • Pass wide, large farm equipment only if you know conditions are safe and you are sure the farmer will not be making a left-hand turn.
  • Be cautious when pulling back in.
  • It is illegal to pass in a no passing lane or within 100 feet of an intersection, railroad crossing, or bridge.
  • Be prepared to yield to wide equipment.
  • Always wear a safety belt and heed the road's speed limit.
  • Watch for the farmer's indication of a turn. Newer equipment has one or more amber lights flashing rapidly to indicate a turn. Older equipment is typically not equipped with turn signals, so watch for the farmer's hand signals.

Tips for Farmers

  • Plan travel to avoid rush hours, bad weather, the busiest roads, and the time before daylight and after dark.
  • Be obvious to motorists by proper use of reflective Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblems on any implement of husbandry operated on public roadways. It's against the law to display the symbol on anything else, including mailboxes.
    REMINDER: The fine for illegal display of an SMV label has recently tripled.
  • Use reflective marking tape and reflectors at the extremities of equipment.
  • Turn on hazard lights mounted on farm equipment and turn off field work lights for all roadway travel.
  • Install mirrors that are wide enough for you to see what is following you.
  • Always use turn signals to indicate plans to turn into fields or driveways.
  • Be aware of traffic----oncoming, in front of you, and behind you.
  • If road and shoulder conditions are safe, pull over temporarily to allow traffic to pass.
  • Slow down on turns and curves. Check the traffic behind you.
  • Minimize the width of equipment as much as possible. You may not interfere with traffic in an adjoining lane.
  • When practical, truck larger equipment to the next location.


Tips Endorsed by
Illinois Secretary of State
Illinois High School & College
Driver Education Association, Inc.
Illinois Sheriff's Association

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Rules of the Country Road Booklet

Click here to check out a country roads safety booklet developed by the IFB "Quality of Life" ACTION TEAM.

More On Safety

Click here to find more safety tips offered during Agricultural Safety Awareness Week