Extra caution needed on Kansas roads during harvest

It’s a busy time for farmers in Kansas, with harvest underway, and hay season in full swing. The Kansas Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to use more caution and patience when traveling around farm trucks, tractors, combines, and other implements.

“As the busy farming season is underway, each traveler in Kansas needs to be more aware of increased farm implement and truck traffic,” said Lieutenant Adam Winters, KHP public information officer. “In Kansas we have many trucks exiting and entering the roadways at any given time. Traveling around these vehicles requires extra caution.”

Most farm equipment is not designed to travel at highway speeds, and may only travel 15-25 mph. Farm equipment is often wider than the lane of traffic, so extra room should be allowed when sharing the road. Caution should be practiced on all roads, but especially on busy rural roads with unmarked intersections.

Preliminary statistics indicate that statewide in 2017, there were 118 crashes involving farm equipment. In those 118 crashes, three people were killed, and 41 people were injured. Already this year, preliminary statistics indicate there have been 23 crashes, with nine people injured.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there. Most farmers 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 their ability to hear your vehicle.
  • Pass with extreme caution.  Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the equipment you are passing. If there are curves or hills blocking your view, 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. They understand 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, immediately slow down. While the emblems are visible from a long distance, it is difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in on the 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.

Information thanks to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

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