"Harvesting Safety & Health" is the theme of the 62nd annual observance of National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 18-24, sponsored by the National Safety Council.

"The theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week reminds us that harvest season comes with important safety messages," says John Slocombe, Kansas State Extension farm safety specialist. "Especially important is safety on our rural highways as farm equipment and passengers use the same two lanes. Harvest season generally is a time when we see an increase in collisions between farm equipment and other vehicles."

"These collisions are often the result of the speed differential between slower-moving farm equipment and passenger cars and trucks," adds Slocombe. "A highway, the closure distance and time between a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour and a farm tractor pulling a grain wagon traveling 15 miles per hour is very short. The passenger vehicle driver simply doesn't have enough time to react if they do not recognize the farm equipment soon enough."

Slocombe reminds farmers to take steps to enhance farm machinery visibility by replacing worn or damaged Slow Moving Vehicle emblems and using appropriate lighting and reflective markings. Most tractors and combines are equipped with lighting and markings that make them more visible on the highway.

Passenger vehicle drivers can help by acknowledging the fall farming season is busy and often requires large farm implements to be moved on public highways. Drivers in rural areas should always be alert to the possibility of encountering slow moving farm vehicles and be prepared to slow or stop to avoid a rear-end collision or striking a farm vehicle turning into a field or driveway.

K-State Extension Service