With harvest now underway in Kansas, officials are urging caution and patience on roads, especially when traveling around farm trucks, tractors, combines, and other implements.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, most farm equipment is not designed to travel at highway speeds, and may only travel 15-25 mph. Farm equipment is often wider than other vehicles, and is sometimes wider than the lane of traffic, so extra room should be allowed when traveling near an implement on the road. Extra caution should be practiced on all roads, but especially on the busy rural roads with unmarked intersections.
Preliminary numbers indicate that statewide in 2016, there were 110 crashes involving farm equipment. In those 110 crashes, one person was killed, and 29 people were injured. Already this year, preliminary statistics indicate there have been 22 crashes, with seven people injured.
It is important to share the road safely, for the sake of the farmers, and for the motoring public. Tips to keep in mind when sharing Kansas roads with farmers:
- Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there. Most operators of farm equipment regularly check for vehicles behind them, however, most of their time must be spent looking ahead to stay on the road and watch for oncoming traffic. Implements are very loud, hindering the farmer’s ability to hear your vehicle.
- Pass with extreme caution. Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the farm equipment you are passing. If there are curves or hills blocking your view of oncoming traffic, wait until you can clearly visualize the area you’re passing in. You should not pass in a designated “No Passing Zone,” even if you are stuck behind a farm vehicle. Do not pass if you are within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure, or tunnel.
- When a farm vehicle pulls to the right side of the road, it does not mean it is turning right or allowing you to pass. Due to the size of some farm equipment, the farmer must execute wide left turns, so allow it plenty of room and time to turn, and be alert to see if there might be a driveway or field they may be turning into.
- Be patient. Don’t assume that a farmer can move aside to let you pass. Shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, which can cause the farm vehicle to tip, or the shoulder may not support the weight of a heavy farm vehicle. The farmer understands you are being delayed and will move over at the first safe location available.
- Think of the slow moving vehicle emblem as a warning to adjust your speed. When you see the slow moving vehicle emblem, you should immediately slow down. While the emblems are visible from a long distance away, it is often difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in on a vehicle, especially at night.
- Pay attention. When you are not focused solely on the road, you increase your chances of a collision, especially if you should come upon a slow moving farm vehicle.
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