By Amy Timmerman, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Tips for preventing accidents in busy harvest season
As farmers make their way through their fields harvesting their crops, you will find them on Nebraska roadways and its important to be patient when you see a slow-moving vehicle on the road. Here are some things to remember this fall as you drive to your destinations.
To put in perspective how quickly drivers come onto farm equipment, if a vehicle is traveling 65 mph, and a combine is half of a mile ahead and traveling at 15 mph in the same direction, it would take 36 seconds for your vehicle to meet the combine. When we cut that distance to a fourth of a mile, it only takes 18 seconds. With all the potential distractions drivers face on the road, it is easy to understand how an accident can occur. Here are some tips to keep everyone safe.
- Be patient. Harvest occurs during a short period of time. Farmers will pull large equipment to the edge of the road to allow you to pass when available.
- Farm equipment and tractors drive at a much slower speed, typically between 5-15 mph.
- Leave as much room as possible when meeting large equipment on the road. If the shoulders are in good shape, use them.
- Expect large equipment to take wider turns and even travel into both lanes to properly turn.
- Do not pull out in front of farm equipment and suddenly slow down. Making sudden stops can be impossible due the size of the equipment and potential heavy loads they are carrying.
- Watch for turn signals, hand signals, and other ways a farmer or rancher may try to communicate with you.
- When passing machinery, be sure to double check for oncoming traffic, slow down, and look for turn signals if the equipment has them. Remember that the farmer may be unable to see behind them, making passing very dangerous.