Watch for farm vehicles

Fall harvest is under way and with it brings large farm equipment on our highways.

Today’s larger farms have fields some distance apart. That means farm equipment needs to travel on highways to get from field to field.

This time of the year we can find combines, sometimes large, moving down a highway to get to the next field to harvest. They usually travel at less than 25 miles an hour and can be difficult to pass.

That means drivers coming up behind a combine need to slow down. It may not be possible to get around the machine for some time, so a lot of patience is needed. One of the big causes of car-combine or other farm equipment accidents is when the equipment starts to turn left into a driveway while a car is attempting to pass.

Other slow-moving farm equipment this time of year can be tractors pulling grain carts. These carts take the grain from the combine and transfer it into a truck to haul to the elevator or to home storage.

Grain wagons pulled by a tractor or pickup truck are another common sight as corn or soybeans are being harvested. These also are traveling less than 25 miles an hour so they can slow down traffic.

It can be frustrating for a motorist who has an appointment to have to slow down and wait for a chance to pass or hope the slow moving equipment will turn into a driveway soon.

Farmers, on the other hand, have a responsibility to help motorists who come up behind them to get around. The first thing they can do is try to avoid traveling during the busy times of the day when people are going to or from work.

They need to be aware of cars lining up behind them and pull over as soon as they have a chance. When making a left hand turn, be very aware of what is behind and what they may be trying to do.

Combines and other farm equipment should have an approved slow moving vehicle on the rear of the equipment. Make sure it is kept clean. Flashing amber lights are important in keeping motorists informed that you are moving slowly.

Be extra careful when traveling on hills and around curves to keep equipment as visible as possible. Keep a safe speed when going down a hill as well as going up.

Only experienced operators should be on the equipment when traveling on the highway. Highway travel is a high risk part of farming, but essential on today’s farms so experience is important.

Keeping equipment in good shape is important when traveling on the highway as well as getting the crops harvested. Avoid traveling the roads when visibility is poor such as early morning or at dusk or after dark.

To help avoid an accident, free harvest requires the patience and cooperation of both the motorists and farmers. Accidents can happen quickly but the resulting injuries can last a life time.

So we all need to be safety conscious. And remember that farmers are harvesting our basic food supply for our dinner tables.

Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and an independent writer for Farm Bureau.