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Extra Caution Needed On Kansas Roads During Harvest

Harvest season is nearing, and the Kansas Highway Patrol would like to remind motorists to use more caution and patience when traveling around farm trucks, tractors, and combines.

“Living in the heartland requires Kansans to learn how to safely and effectively share the road with farmers,” Colonel Ernest E. Garcia, Superintendent of the Patrol, said. “It’s important to support this cause to keep all Kansas families safe—both farm families and travelers.”

Most farm equipment is not designed to travel at highway speeds, and may only be designed to travel 15-25 miles per hour. Farm equipment is often wider than other vehicles, and is sometimes wider than the lane of traffic, so extra room should be allowed when traveling near a farm implement on the road. Extra caution should be practiced on all roads, but especially on the busy rural roads with unmarked intersections.

In 2010 in the state of Kansas, there were 102 crashes involving farm equipment. Two people were killed, and 24 injured in these crashes. During the 10-year span from 2000 to 2010, there were 1,290 crashes involving farm implements and other vehicles. In that 10-year time frame, 37 people were killed, and 438 injured in those crashes.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when sharing Kansas roads with farmers:

  • 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 keep the equipment safely on the road and to watch for oncoming traffic. Farm vehicles are also extremely loud, often 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.
  • Allow extra room when following farm equipment. With slow moving vehicles, a passenger vehicle can close in on the empty space much more quickly. Just because a farm vehicle pulls to the right side of the road 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 are 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.

About Derek Nester

Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communication. After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. 6 radio stations. In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on 69 radio stations across 9 Midwest states.