Monsanto is a proud sponsor of NECAS’s National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 21-27. As a part of it, Monsanto employees are sharing why safety in agriculture is important. For more farm safety information, check out the Growing Safely video series on the Monsanto YouTube Channel here.
By Rena Warren
I am from a small community; born and raised in the panhandle of Texas. My dad was a Texas state trooper for 33 years. He retired as a special Texas Ranger. His career sparked my passion for safety at the early age of 12, when I began going with my dad to his defensive driving schools. I also would go down to the DPS office and answer the phones during the summers. I continued that until I began working at 16, and even then often in the evenings and on weekends I would go with him to defensive driving. It was a great time spent with Daddy.
I have worked at Monsanto in the seed manufacturing division for 15 years. It has provided an opportunity to see and experience the potential dangers of farming. One of the greatest dangers is traveling on rural roads.
On rural roads, visibility is poor. There are wild animals and live stock crossing the road. Farm equipment is being moved. The roads are narrow, have rough surfaces, ditches, soft shoulders, and they are poorly maintained. There are unmarked fields, farm entrances and exits, often hidden by growing crops. This creates instant and unseen intersections. In rural areas, you’ll also encounter dirt or caliche roads which require slower speeds and the use of extreme caution for frequent changes. Some who travel these roads frequently drive fast and without a seatbelt. Others are distracted drivers who are fatigued or under the influence.
Even though rural roads are far less traveled, the risk of a fatality is more than double those on major highways. Our community has suffered tragic losses due to rural road accidents. A family dear to my heart lost two relatives (a father and son) within three years – both on rural roads.
On an ordinary day, a farmer has many tasks. That day, the father was traveling a road he had crossed many times before. This time, he may have been distracted. As he went over the railroad track, his farm truck was struck by a train; he was killed. The surviving family, friends and the farming community suffered a tremendous loss. Three years later, the father’s youngest son was on an ATV rushing to finish work for a July 4th celebration. His ATV rolled over and hit a nearby fence, killing him.
We’ve all heard similar stories and tragedies in rural communities all over the world. These accidents are often due to carelessness, poor decisions, driving too fast and complacency.
What can we do to prevent them? We can change our behavior. We can slow down, drive with caution, be aware of what’s happening around us, take frequent breaks, and stop when we get tired.
Before you put the key in the ignition, fasten your seatbelt and remind passengers to do the same. Put down your phone or pullover to answer the phone or make a call. It’s easy to get comfortable while driving on familiar roads, and we tend to let common sense slide.
Always give yourself a way out. If there is a car coming, what will you do? What can you do to prevent an accident? Have a plan. Be prepared for the expected and the unexpected.