FONDA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Backhoes, grain carts, and big red tractors are set to make their return to Montgomery County roads this fall, as harvest season reaches its peak. The big equipment moves slowly—often less than 25 miles per hour.

Crashes involving farm equipment and other vehicles happen every year. Sheriff Jeffery T. Smith and members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office posted a reminder on Facebook Tuesday, urging motorists to slow down and pay attention when they encounter the big rigs.

“The farmers in our community are very important to us, and we want to make sure they are safe. No matter how rushed you are and how slow a vehicle is traveling, the rules of the road apply. I urge you not to drive in an erratic manner and give our farmers room to work!”, stated Sheriff Smith.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) told NEWS10’s Sara Rizzo in May that in no-passing zones, it’s actually illegal to pass slow-moving farm equipment. “Most of the time, that farm equipment doesn’t travel more than a quarter-mile between fields,” said Smith. “There is a good chance that the farm operator is looking for a field access road, or a wide point, or somewhere to safely pull off to allow traffic to pass.”

Here are some safety tips when encountering farm equipment on the roads:

  • Be alert and cautious, and give large farm equipment and other slow-moving vehicles extra space.
  • Do not pass if you are in a space designated as a “no passing zone” or in any area that is not safe to do so—including intersections, bridges, and railroad crossings, among others.
  • Make sure the tractor isn’t trying to make a left turn before passing on the left.
  • Expect farm equipment to make wider turns, and even have to use both lanes at times.
  • Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there.
  • Be careful when you do get the chance to pass. Farmers will often move their equipment over when it is safe to do so.

It’s important to be mindful of the areas around farm entrances as well. Farm equipment and heavily loaded trucks could be turning in or pulling out onto the road. The key takeaway: slow down.