Archive for Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Schlageck: Shine with safety

August 28, 2012

With every passing year, farm machinery becomes larger and larger. Some of this new equipment is so large it extends into the oncoming traffic lane and far beyond the tractor pulling it.

Farms are larger today than in the past, and farm operators are forced to travel longer distances on the highways between fields. Fewer people have farm backgrounds. Many do not recognize that caution must be exercised when approaching farm equipment on the roadway.

There is also more and more traffic on today’s roadways. Farm equipment without side markings may not be seen, especially in low-light conditions. That’s why colored, fluorescent film is the latest innovation to help make rural life safer. Properly placed on farm equipment, these vibrant-colored, acrylic safety devices immediately attract the attention of approaching motorists.

Sometimes referred to as “perimeter marking materials,” the micro prism used with fluorescent films uses up to 75 percent of its surface to reflect incoming light. Some of the glass bead reflective elements use only about 25 percent of the surface to return light.

“These new, long-lasting safety strips were not designed to replace slow-moving-vehicle emblems,” said Holly Higgins, Kansas Farm Bureau safety and health programs director. “Our farmers, ranchers and rural people could use them for their own protection and for those who may be traveling near them.”

Higgins notes approximately 50 percent of all accidents with farm equipment are sideswipes. The longer lasting reflective tape can provide greater safety by increasing visibility when approaching slow-moving farm equipment from behind.

“The ideal scenario is to use yellow reflectors on the side and front of the equipment while red and orange strips should be placed on both sides of the back with the slow-moving-vehicle emblem in the middle,” Higgins says.

The most critical time to provide high visibility for slow-moving farm machinery is in poor lighting conditions, including twilight, and in inclement weather such as snow, rain or fog, Higgins said. During such conditions, headlights are not always turned on promptly because they do not help to improve visibility.

Bright colors depend on direct sunlight and lose their attracting attention in marginal lighting conditions, the Farm Bureau safety coordinator said. The new fluorescent films continue to provide a high level of visibility during all lighting conditions.

The sooner you recognize a slow-moving vehicle on the roadways, the better your chances are for avoiding an equipment collision, Higgins said.

For example, a motorist traveling 65 miles per hour will need 4.5 seconds to perceive, react and slow down when approaching a tractor traveling 15 miles per hour.

That’s why new technology is important to adapt and use, Higgins said.

“When your life and that of your loved ones is concerned, it’s important to utilize every edge you can,” the Farm Bureau safety specialist said. “Using fluorescent films can give you one advantage that will help protect you and those traveling around you.”

While law in Kansas does not require these reflective strips, it makes good sense to use them. Install these fluorescent strips and drive more safely today.

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