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Slow-moving farming vehicles will be traveling down highways and roads as harvest season approaches.

Slow down. Slow down. Slow down.

That’s advice of a local paramedic who gets calls to accidents on the road involving tractors and vehicles.

During National Farm Safety and Health Week through Saturday, it is time to remind people to add an extra layer of caution while driving on the roads and working on the farm.

Fall harvest is also prime time for road-related accidents, with many of today’s large harvest and tillage-related farm equipment often moving slowly — making it difficult for motorists to know how to behave when sharing the road, according to Ag Daily.

Alan Baker, who has worked for Neoga Ambulance Service for 28 years and served as a volunteer on the Neoga Fire Department for 20 years, said this time of year often brings car and tractor accidents on the road.

“As an industry, we see more distracted driving and accidents of cars running into the backs of tractors pulling implements,” said Baker. “Slow down. Slow down. Slow down. That’s my advice for this time of year when we are beginning to see tractors on the roads.”

Baker said it is important to pay attention while behind the wheel, don’t let distractions hinder your driving, and always drive defensively.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2017 showed the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 581 fatalities, which equals 23 deaths per 100,000 workers.

With harvest season around the corner, combines and farm equipment will begin traveling on country roads, and long days of hard work lie ahead.

It’s important for farmers and ag workers to keep their physical and mental health at the forefront. Working long hours, often in the isolation of a combine or tractor, can wear on farmers, according to article published in Farm Week Now.

Julie Stephens, Effingham County Farm Bureau manager, said due to the wet spring the area had, harvest will be a little later than in a normal year, but some are out there chopping silage now.

“There are some farmers who will be cutting beans soon, while many other farmers might be waiting two to four weeks or so for their crops to be ready,” said Stephens. “However, beef and dairy farmers have started chopping silage to feed their cattle.”

Stephens said it isn’t too early to start paying attention to tractors and equipment on the roads.

“Rural drivers may have already noticed increased truck and tractor traffic as farmers might be emptying grain bins in preparation for the upcoming harvest,” said Stephens. “During harvest, the rural roads will be more frequently used by combines, tractors, grain wagons, auger carts and semis.”

Baker said rural fire departments and ambulance services train for farm-related incidents and hope they never have to put into action.

“We are always training for farm accidents, tractor rollovers, auger entrapment, grain bin entrapment,” said Baker. “We hope we never have to use this training.”

Baker said area farmers are out now cutting silage and some northern areas are starting to pick corn. And this reminds him of some of the accidents he’s seen over the years.

“I saw the results of a small pickup truck that hit the back of huge planter that was being pulled by a very larger tractor,” said Baker. “The passenger was deceased, but the driver walked away with not much more than scratch.”

Stephens said above all tips she can provide motorists, it is “slow down and be patient.”

Tips for motorists are:

  • Reduce speed when encountering farm equipment on a road. Flashing amber lights mean “caution.”
  • Slow down when you see the “slow-moving vehicle emblem,” which is bright orange and red triangle and reflective.
  • Keep a safe distance from the farm equipment so the farmer can see you. If you can’t see his mirrors, he can’t see you.
  • Pass wide. Large farm equipment needs plenty of space. Be sure that the farmer will not be making a left-hand turn.

Tips for farmers are:

  • Be obvious to motorists by using the proper reflective slow-moving emblems on equipment.
  • Install mirrors that are wide enough for you to see what is following you.
  • Slow down on turns and curves and always check traffic behind you.
  • Always use signals when making turns.
  • Minimize the width of the equipment as much as possible.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151, ext 138.

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