The geese and sandhill cranes are calling, the tulips and tree buds are coming out, and the farmers are itching to get back into their fields, so that must mean that spring has arrived!

A tractor is driving toward the camera on a rural road in a no-passing zone.
When on the road, remember to only pass in passing zones when you are certain it is safe to do so. (Credit: Canva Images)

For many communities around Wisconsin, this also means an increased amount of slow-moving traffic on their country roads for the upcoming planting season.

As more farmers own or lease land that isn’t directly connected to their main property, we see more tractors traveling on roadways for greater distances. At the same time, more Americans are moving out of cities and into rural areas, meaning there is more slow-moving traffic on these same rural roads.

If drivers aren’t careful, a casual morning commute can quickly take a turn for the worse.

Over the years, the implementation of seat belts, air bags, and roll-over protection systems have reduced the likelihood of severe injury in the event of a crash but avoiding them altogether is still the preferred option.

Thankfully, many slow-moving vehicle accidents can be prevented by remembering a few key points.

A photo of a rural roadway on a sunny spring day. The road is unmarked near a grassy ditch with a yellow farm machinery crossing road sign.
Whether you’re driving a tractor or a car, roadway safety is everyone’s job. (Credit: Canva Images)

Always be alert while driving. This is the case whether you are in your personal vehicle or in a tractor, and ensure seat belts are used by drivers and passengers alike. Road shoulders may be especially soft after snow melt and spring rains, so getting out of the main travel lane is not always an option for farm machinery.

Only pass in passing zones when you are certain it is safe to do so – even if the machinery cannot move to the side. It has been illegal to pass farm machinery in no-passing zones on Wisconsin’s roadways since 2014.

Be sure to give adequate separation between vehicles and don’t pass too close to an intersection. Farm machinery takes longer to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle does. Overall, just remember to be patient. The people driving the machinery want to get to their next location quickly and safely as well, so be sure to give them a break when you’re crossing paths.

Last fall, we honored National Farm Safety and Health Week with the message of “No One Can Take Your Place.” This message reflects on safety precautions for farm workers and rural residents alike, especially during times of the year such as planting and harvesting.

To learn more about ways that we can all stay safe on Wisconsin roadways any time of year, including during the busy planting season, visit the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) website. You can find more educational online resources about safety in agriculture by visiting!

Whether you’re driving a tractor or a car, roadway safety is everyone’s job. Take the slow-moving opportunity to thank a farmer and appreciate this beautiful state we live in.