This is a two-part series on sharing the road during harvest season. In our previous blog post, we discussed how farmers can alert other motorists and better share the road with them.
As we transition into fall, farmers are getting ready for harvest. More combines, tractors, and semis will be traveling on rural roads. With an increase of these slow-moving vehicles in transit, it’s important for motorists to know how to share the road.
Harvest Time: What to Know About Sharing the Road, Part II
In order to keep everyone safe, here are a few things for motorists to remember when traveling rural roads and highways:
- Watch for debris. Farm equipment often moves from field to road, and their large tires typically trap mud, stalks, and other debris that is released on the road.
- Look twice before you pull out. Farm equipment is large and heavy. It takes time for something that large to accelerate, slow down, and stop. They also have large blind spots, so farmers might not see an approaching vehicle, especially if you pull out in front of them quickly. If you see a piece of farm equipment coming and you aren’t sure if you can make it, don’t try it. Wait for them to pass, and then proceed.
- Watch for hand signals. Make sure you can see the driver of the equipment before you pass; if you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you. If the tractor has its hazards on, the driver might use hand signals to let you know that he is turning. Don’t assume that a slow-moving vehicle pulling to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is going to let you pass.
- Keep your lights on. Keep your lights on at all times during harvest. Farm equipment can be out during all hours of the day. Make it easy to be seen.
- Be patient. Captain Brett Friesz with the Nebraska State Patrol warns that “it is easy to become a little antsy when you’re sharing the road with slow-moving agricultural equipment. It’s time for all drivers to exercise caution and take great care when following or passing these farm vehicles.”
- Slow down. When you come to a hill or a curve, slow down in case there is a piece of farm machinery at the bottom of the hill or just out of the curve. Surprises can be deadly.
- As always, wear your seat belt.
According to Southern States, most paved rural roads are around 18-20 feet wide; many pieces of farm equipment measure over 13 feet wide. With farm equipment taking up a majority of the road, it’s important that you slow down and give the farmer enough time to get over on the side of the road so that you can safely pass.
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photo credit: John Deere Baling Alfalfa via photopin (license)