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Motorists asked to be patient with farm equipment on roads

April 24, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - Marlin Lynch has a proposal for motorists in this age that he calls the "urban clash."

He asks that drivers be cautious and patient when encountering farm equipment, and he'll encourage members of the local and state farm bureaus to keep roads clean.

"We have to do our part, too, to make sure there's a cooperative spirit," said Lynch, who has been known to shovel dirt off the road in front of his farm.

Lynch, president of the Fulton County (Pa.) Farm Bureau, joined with representatives of the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the agricultural world on Monday to encourage safe travel during Pennsylvania Rural Roads Safety Week and throughout the year.

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Farm equipment is designed to travel 15 to 25 mph and can be 16 feet wide, Lynch said. It has blind spots similar to those of tractor-trailers, he said.

"The equipment has gotten bigger over the years," said Fred R. Brown, organization director for a regional office of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

People moving to "the country" for its rural qualities often clash with the sounds, sights and equipment of the farms, Lynch said.

"All of a sudden, they don't like the slow-moving vehicles on the road. They don't like the dirt associated with it," Lynch said.

The urban clash in Fulton County is "not like Franklin County (Pa.), but it's coming because the development is coming this direction," Lynch said.

Farmers said many accidents occur when other drivers don't realize a farmer is turning. While they might anticipate turns at an intersection, motorists don't always expect farm equipment to turn into a field.

Motorists attempt to pass the tractor while it's swinging wide to make the turn, farmers said.

"There's been several times that if I had been making a turn, there would've been a collision," Lynch's son, Karlin, said.

Citing Pennsylvania Department of Transportation data, the state farm bureau reported that there were 98 accidents involving farm equipment on roads in 2004. Franklin County reportedly had six that year, trailing only Lancaster County for the highest number of crashes.

More and more, farmers are looking to increase their acreage and are tending fields farther from their primary one.

"The demands of the family farm and to have access to greater acreage requires them to travel on the interstates. ... There's just no way we can't be on the highways," Marlin Lynch said.

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