With harvest season around the corner, motorists across Illinois will soon share rural roads with farm equipment, including tractors, combines, and farm trucks. If you plan to drive on rural roads this fall, keep these tips in mind to ensure your safety, local farmers’ safety, and the safety of all motorists on the road (courtesy of 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.