Harvest safety vital to farmers, public

Harvest safety vital to farmers, public

The Issue: The harvest is a dangerous time of year.

Our View: Having a safe harvest takes effort from both farmers and the public.

CARLINVILLE (Oct. 5, 2017) – Although many people might not realize it, agriculture is the driving economic force in our area. One doesn’t have to be a farmer to realize agriculture’s impact. From those who sell feed, seed and farm implements, to those who purchase locally grown produce from area supermarkets, farmers’ markets and out of the backs of pickup trucks, we are all affected by agriculture.

The harvest is the most important time of year for those who have a crop to sell. This season in particular, with the harvest beginning so early due to the warm spring, people sharing the roads with combines, tractors and grain haulers might not be prepared to share the road.

Farm implements don’t always enter and exit the road from driveways and intersections. Crops are often accessed from field roads, which aren’t always easily visible. Motorists need to be aware that an implement can slow down to turn and enter the roadway in unexpected places. It’s important for motorists to slow down and expand thier following distance, not only to avoid striking a piece of equipment, but to make their vehicle easier to see. Due to the height of some implements, a car that is too close isn’t always visible. Just because you may see the farm implement, it doesn’t mean the driver of it sees you.

It’s important for those driving farm equipment to use turn signals. Make sure that brake lights and turn signals are working properly. If a vehicle isn’t properly lighted, hand signals must be used.

Farm equipment makes wide turns. Give them the extra space to do so. A piece of farm equipment that slows down and moves to the right side of the road may very well be attempting a left turn. Watch for blinkers and hand signals.

Obviously, farm equipment moves much slower than most traffic. Always keep in mind that the implement in front of you is likely moving at 25 MPH or less, which means the gap will close more quickly than one might realize.

When passing a piece of farm equipment, it’s important to do so safely. Understand that farm implements are often extremely wide and there may not be adequate space to pass unless the farmer moves partly onto the shoulder, which won’t happen if the farmer doesn’t see you. Always use a turn signal and mare sure there aren’t any obstacles on the side of the road (such as bridges, mailboxes or road signs) that would keep the farmer from moving over.

Farmers experience long, draining days during the harvest. It’s not unusual to see them working well after dark to bring in their crops. If you’re someone driving a piece of farm equipment, it’s important to stay alert. Due to the size of the equipment, there’s little space to accommodate swerving. Exhaustion can impair judgment.

Everyone just needs to understand that Macoupin County wouldn’t be what it is without agriculture. It’s our most sustaining industry, directly or indirectly. Drivers must show patience and be aware of their surroundings. If both farmers and motorists exercise good judgment and take the necessary precautions, this year’s harvest is sure to be a safe one.