It’s become increasingly rare to find a new car model that doesn’t boast safety features such as a rear view camera or a blind spot sensor. Some cars even have parallel park assist or a drift alert for when a car goes over the yellow line. These safety features are something that modern motorists take for granted.
But, just as rare as it is to find a new car without these features- it’s even more rare to find farm equipment that does have these safeguards. “There’s really very minimal safety features in farm equipment,” say Cheryl Skjolaas, Ag Safety and Health Specialist at the Division of Extension at UW-Madison, says. But why is that? How could it be that something so commonplace in vehicles is like a Bigfoot sighting when it comes to farm machinery? Skjolaas explains that farm equipment “is designed for the field as the primary use and “highway travel is secondary” to field work. What’s really holding up advancements in safety tech within agriculture is that the turnover in safety features between a car and a tractor are very different. The average time it takes to get a safety feature in a car is typically four years, as where the average time to get a safety feature in farm equipment is roughly 25 years.
Fancy cameras and parking features aside, most tractors that hit the road lack viable turn signals that are easy for the average motorist to understand; and sometimes flashers simply don’t suffice. As a result of the lack of advanced technology in tractors and combines, farmers have been urged to take extra precautions to make up for tech’s shortcomings. Some of the most common ways to be on the safer side, according to Skjolaas, is to have a pilot car when on the road as a deterrent for accidents.
The State of Wisconsin experienced 175 traffic-related crashes involving farm equipment in 2018. According to Colleen Kottke of the Wisconsin State Farmer, those accidents resulted in 71 injuries and 7 fatalities. As summer comes around the corner there will be more and more pieces of farm equipment hitting the road, which has to make every farmer a little nervous. Perhaps advancements in safer farming equipment would put everyone on the road a little more at ease?
To hear the interview with Cheryl Skjolaas, click the link below: