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Caution: Farm Equipment Back on the Roads
Boise--The headlines each spring are disturbing and frequent: Car hits combine, motorist injured.
"There's just more congestion on the county roads," said Canyon County Farm Bureau Board member Sid Freeman. "We're seeing more impatient people taking risks; some don't realize how long it takes machinery to get from one field to the next. They end up putting themselves and others at risk by making bad decisions on the road."
Canyon County and Ada County Farm Bureaus each year produce public service announcements for the Treasure Valley airwaves that urge motorists to look out for farm machinery on country roads.
Ada County's rural accidents are more commonplace and that concerns Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke. "We think this is a good idea and thought it was a project we'd like to get involved with," said Sonke. Freeman added that there were several near fatal accidents the past few summers in Canyon County that could have been prevented with farm equipment awareness.
"Every year we see the near misses in the headlines; it boils down to this and one fatal accident is too many," said Freeman. "It’s just a matter of time before someone gets killed and that's unacceptable.
"Sonke says that developers in Ada County are chopping up subdivisions bringing more high speed traffic to county roads bringing and that means more accidents. "Drivers don't expect to see farm equipment anymore because they're miles from the city limit, they simply don't know what to do." he said.
Freeman adds that farmers are using bigger equipment, that’s a recent change farm trends, "It's to save money, fewer passes through a field, that burns less diesel and takes less time, it comes back to staying profitable and staying on the farm, unfortunately we take up a lot more roadway that we used to and drivers aren’t use to that.
"Some farmers have been seen in Canyon County using pilot cars when moving equipment at night to prevent accidents because as the rural population grows, speed limits and traffic increases while patience wears thin.
The Farm Bureaus started production on the Public Service Announcements in early April, and should hit the airwaves upon completion.
Ada and Canyon County Farm Bureaus say the PSA's center on basic rural safety tips:
Left-turn collision Defensive driving tips: -Is it really turning? Don't assume a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right, or is letting you pass. Check the operator's hand signals. - Is there a turn signal? A flashing light on a tractor that suddenly stops flashing is a turn signal. Slow down when you see this signal. -Where could it turn? Check the left side of the road for gates, driveways, or any place a farm vehicle might turn.
Rear-end collision Defensive driving tips: -Be alert. Always watch for farm vehicles on rural roads, especially at planting and harvest. -Slow down immediately. As soon as you see a slow-moving vehicle, start to apply brakes like you would when approaching a stoplight. -Keep your distance. Stay a safe distance behind farm vehicles. Most farm equipment is not designed to travel at speeds greater than 25 miles an hour. Even when towed behind a truck, equipment such as sprayers and fuel tanks often travels less than 25 miles an hour.
Passing collision Defensive driving tips: Be patient. Don't assume the farmer can move aside to let you pass. Shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, which can cause the farm vehicle to tip, or they may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle. -Make sure you're clear. When passing, make sure you can see the farm vehicle in your rear-view mirror before you get back in your lane. -Enjoy the drive. Even if you have to slow down to 20 miles an hour and follow a tractor for two miles, it takes only six minutes of your time, about the same as waiting for two stoplights.