Tips to keep in mind when sharing Kansas roads with farmers from the Kansas Highway Patrol:
• 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.
It is that time again for farmers to be busy out in their fields for wheat harvest and this means slower moving farm implements along road ways throughout Barton County and drivers are ask to take extra precautions while on these roads.
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.
“Give farmers a lot of room when passing farm equipment on the roadways,” Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said. “They will have a lot of slow moving vehicles in and out of those fields.”
Bellendir also mentioned another thing to watch out during this time of the year is deer. Deer will be more active due to farmers stirring up the deer’s habitat.
“We usually see an uptick in deer accidents this time of the year,” Bellendir said. “As the farmers plow through the fields deer get spooked and run.”
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, preliminary numbers indicate that statewide in 2015, there were 106 crashes involving farm equipment. In those 106 crashes, no one was killed, but there were 40 people injured.
Already this year, preliminary statistics indicate there have been 22 crashes, with four people injured. It is important to share the road safely, for the sake of the farmers, and for the motoring public.
The heat is going to play a part during this year’s harvest as well.
According to the AccuWeather, the temperature is going to be over the 100 degree mark for the next few days.
“We ask everyone to drink plenty of water while working those fields,” Bellendir said. “It is going to be hot for the next week or so.”