Sharing the road at harvest time

It’s harvest time in Brown County so it’s time to slow down and watch for slow-moving harvest vehicles like tractors, balers, combines and other vehicles which will be moving their products from place to place.
Drivers should be aware that during this harvest time, they may have to be patient as they have to share the road with slow-moving vehicles.
According to information found on the website of the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Brown County planted 86,400 acres of land in 2013 and 91,900 acres in 2014 (most recent years recorded) and harvested about the same amount.
In bushels of soybeans, that is 4,203,000 in 2013 and 4,461,000 bushels in 2014. That puts a lot of trucks on the road hauling soybeans and other crops from point A to point B.
It is legal to drive farm machinery on public roads and it’s often the only way farmers can get from field to field to storage units.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), accidents involving a farm vehicle are five times more likely to produce a fatality than any other type of motor vehicle accident.
In regard to drivers on the road having to deal with  slow-moving equipment, Cheryl Skjolaas, University of Wisconsin Extension Agricultural Safety specialist says that drivers must remember that farm equipment is not very maneuverable and its size makes it hard to move over quickly or to see other drivers that are following or passing farm equipment.
“It’s important to be alert and remember that these vehicles don’t behave like cars and pick-up trucks when it comes to speed, turning or braking,” Skjolaas said. “To all drivers I can offer a few tips and reminders for motorists on rural roads.”
She recommends the following tips:
• Be aware of planting or harvest season and watch for slow moving equipment;
• Never assume that a farm vehicle operator is able to see an approaching vehicle;
• A majority of farm equipment crashes occur when the farm equipment operator slows down to turn left and the motorist behind moves to pass;
• Watch for  equipment extending into the oncoming traffic’s lane;
• Be aware that farm machinery crossing the road moves slowly and may be pulling equipment;
• Make sure, when passing heavy equipment you allow enough time and distance to pass safely. It is illegal to pass farm equipment in no passing zones.
“My advise to drivers is to slow down during harvest season on rural roads and stay safe,” Skjolaas said.
For more information visit the National Safety Council at nsc.org.