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Sharing the Road with Farm Equipment

Written by Ankin Law Office

Harvest season often contributes to large, moving farm equipment on roads and highways and increased numbers of car accidents for motorists who share the roads.

Beware: Moving Farm Equipment on the Road

In some areas of the country, fall harvest season means more farm equipment moving along rural roads and highways shared with motorists. In addition to slowing traffic to a crawl, moving farm equipment creates numerous safety hazards for drivers. If a car is hit or crashes into large farm equipment, consequences for motorists are often dire due to the size and weight of the equipment.

In certain states like Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota, harvest season contributes to a large number of accidents seen by car accident attorneys on certain types of roads. According to data gathered by crash experts, roads with the following conditions have a higher probability of crashes between motorists and moving farm equipment:

  • Farm to market travel routes
  • Roads with smaller, narrower lanes
  • Roads with steep inclines
  • Roads with curves and turns
  • High-speed roads (over 50 mph speed limits)
  • High traffic density roads (over 361 vehicles per mile per day)

Although 70% of traffic crashes with farm equipment occur on rural roads, 30% occur in urban areas. This is usually caused by large equipment that is being transported on highways connecting different farming communities in the state. While rural area crashes are often caused by a lack of lighting along roads, highway crashes are minimized by certain state standards on lighting and marking policies. According to the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), standards are imposed on states with large farming communities, and each state is rated on ASABE compliance standards. The higher the score, the more compliant the state.

Illinois ranks at the top of the compliance list with the highest score, followed by Kansas, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. According to ASABE, the states with the highest compliance scores have the lowest accident rates between motorists and moving farm equipment. Due to Illinois’ high score for compliance on lighting and marking, Chicago car accident attorneys see lower crash rates between motorists and moving farm equipment on Illinois roads and highways. When they do occur, injuries tend to be less severe.

Safety Tips for Sharing the Road

While car accidents can happen any time without warning, harvest season presents increased risks of serious injuries and fatalities when moving farm equipment is on the road. During fall harvest season, drivers may encounter a variety of large, moving agricultural equipment like balers, combines, corn pickers, plows, silage wagons, and tractor-trailers that take up more than one lane, block oncoming traffic, and travel at very slow speeds.

To prevent accidents, motorists who encounter moving farm vehicles must exercise extreme caution and pay close attention to the road. Since many rural roads are only two lanes, passing may not be possible due to blocked vision and limited space to pass safely. To avoid deadly collisions, motorists and farm vehicle operators must follow important safety tips.

Driving Safely

Due to the large size and heavy weight of most farm equipment, moving equipment usually takes up more than one lane. In many cases, there is not enough space for motorists and equipment on the same road. Motorists often have to move to the edge of the roadway or into the emergency lane to provide adequate space for the equipment.

Farm equipment that’s being delivered to rural farms and businesses is usually transported during daytime hours when visibility is best. If traffic gets heavy or backed up, farm vehicle operators must pull off to one side of the road to let motorists pass safely. This increases the safe flow of traffic and decreases the danger of passing accidents with vehicles.

Passing with Extreme Caution

Although approaching moving farm equipment on the road can be a frustrating experience, passing blindly or speeding up to get around may prove deadly. When encountering moving farm vehicles and agricultural equipment, motorists should pass with extreme caution.

While traffic laws allow vehicles to pass slow-moving vehicles in no-passing zones, it is illegal to pass moving farm equipment in no-passing zones. Car accident attorneys often witness severe crashes resulting in fatalities when drivers attempt to pass in no-passing zones. Passing farm equipment in these zones should be avoided.

Staying Calm and Patient

Most farm vehicles don’t exceed 25 mph when traveling on the road, so motorists must remain calm and exercise patience. When approaching moving farm equipment, drivers should not tailgate, honk their horns, attempt to pass, or create any type of conflict that may escalate to road rage. Remember that the farm vehicle driver is simply doing his/her job. When traveling in areas where farm equipment is regularly transported, it may be best to take an alternate route when possible.

Categories: Auto Accidents