View from the Cab: Harvest awareness
By: Kent Casson
Both drivers and farmers need to remember to put safety first this harvest season and every day.
National Farm Safety and Health Week is here with a different theme each day including: equipment and rural road safety, health and wellness, priority populations, confined spaces and brain health.
The week always comes in September as we prepare for another fall harvest season with long hours and big equipment. Illinois State Police urge both farmers and the motoring public to share the road to help reduce crashes involving tractors, combines and other pieces of farm equipment. Depending on the weather, harvest can drag out into November or later so be on the lookout.
Contact with poles and power lines tends to increase significantly during harvest as more equipment is out in the field and farmers work more hours in the dark when it can be tough to see the poles and lines out there. Always know the height of your farm equipment and never drive under power lines if your equipment is too tall to clear them.
Always be aware of your turning radius to ensure your tractor does not swing into poles while turning and pay special attention at field entrances and end rows. The use of augers, booms and grain bins can place you dangerously close to overhead lines. Call your local electric utility to report a downed power line.
Motorists should always keep a safe distance from farm equipment so the farmer can see you. If you can’t see the mirrors, he cannot see you. You should only pass large equipment if you know conditions are safe to do so and you are sure the farmer will not make a left-hand turn. Watch for the farmer’s indication for a turn. Older equipment doesn’t always have turn signals so watch for hand signals.
Flashing amber lights mean to use caution and reduce your speed when encountering farm equipment and slow down when you see the large Slow Moving Vehicle emblem on the back of a tractor or combine.
Farmers should plan travel to avoid rush hours, bad weather and the busiest roads. They should use the proper reflective marking tape and reflectors at the extremities of equipment. Installing mirrors wide enough to see what is following you is a great idea. If the road and shoulder conditions are safe, pull over temporarily to allow traffic to pass.
If we all follow these guidelines, we will have another safe harvest and get through another farming year.