Share the Road
Today I received a news release from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDot) asking farmers and motorists to safely share the road during the busy harvest season. Jay Hietpas state traffic engineer said "motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two lane roads. From 2011 to 2015 there were 688 crashes involving farm vehicles and 23 fatalities along with 348 injuries. Almost one half of the fatalities were on the farm vehicle.
MnDot has a number of recommendations for motorists:
Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling crops. It is safer to brake or slowly drive through debris than to veer into oncoming cars of off the road.
When approaching farm equipment, sloe down and use caution. Put additional space between your vehicle and the farm equipment ahead. Don't assume the equipment operator can see you.
Be patient and wait for a safe place to pass.
Drive with headlights on at all times.
MnDot also has some recommendations for farmers:
Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.
Use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph.
Drive slow moving vehicles in the right hand lane as close to the edge of the roadway as possible.
Consider using an escort vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night and if the equipment is large enough that it may extent across the center line.
Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over when safe and let traffic pass.
Pick up any debris left on the highway by the equipment or contact MnDot to remove it.
Plan your route so wide equipment will not hit or damage signs, guardrails, light poles and other obstructions.
I am a farmer and I know about moving equipment on the highway. However, being a Farm Broadcaster I am on the highway a lot driving to meetings and events too. I understand what it is like to be in a hurry and the frustration of following slow moving equipment on the highway. When this happens I just think about how I might not get to my destination at all if I am in a accident. By the way, if you want to have food to eat, farmers need to harvest the crop before winter moves in!