The Oregon Legislature recently passed a bill to address the safety concerns that arise from increased commuter traffic on rural roads. House Bill 3213, also known as the ROADS Act (Rural Oregon Achieving Driving Safety Act), is an attempt to protect farmers moving equipment.
As the population in Washington County expands, commuters are increasingly using rural roads to avoid heavy traffic on highways and main streets. The availability of mobile navigation apps has provided drivers with the ability to navigate to their destination using rural roads that they may not have previously driven. During summer harvest periods, this means that many more vehicles are moving quickly on roads that tractors and other slow-moving vehicles must use.
The ROADS Act allows local governments to establish safety corridors on county roads. This legislation comes at a time of high need, as summer is a busy time for farmers. Grass seed, berries, and a variety of other crops are harvested and taken to market during the summer months, increasing the amount of farm equipment on rural roads. Drivers using rural roads should be cautious around slow-moving vehicles and be prepared to share the road.
The Oregon Farm Bureau provides the following tips for sharing the road safely with slow-moving rural traffic:
- Pay attention to slow-moving vehicle signs! All farm equipment should be marked with an orange triangle to indicate a slow-moving vehicle. When coming up on a slow-moving vehicle, slow down immediately to prevent an accident.
- Be patient with farmers moving equipment. Many will try to pull over if possible; however, road conditions may not always permit pulling over.
- Yield to wide vehicles. Many farm vehicles are wider than the lane of traffic and may take up more than one lane of the road.
- Pass with caution. Only pass slow-moving vehicles in designated passing zones and not within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, or tunnel.
To help drivers stay aware when on rural roads, Tualatin SWCD, Oregon Aglink, and the Washington County chapter of Oregon Farm Bureau teamed up to create road signs encouraging caution. See if you can spot them throughout the county! Next time you encounter slow-moving vehicles on rural roads, remember to be patient, yield to wide vehicles, and pass with caution.