Harvest raises safety concerns for rural roadways

Harvest in a drought year coupled with the nagging fear of winter soon settling in across the Jerauld County area has encouraged crop producers to extend the day- length of harvest when field conditions allow. Motorists are cautioned to be aware of an increase of slow-moving, large equipment on roads during the day and after dark.

With this year’s drought conditions, visibility issues can quickly arise. Heavy equipment creates an abundance of dust which poses additional driving dangers due to decreased visibility. 

“One of the things to always remember when traveling on rural roads is to give machinery plenty of room on the road and do NOT pass at an intersection. I have responded to many accidents where a tractor was traveling at a slow speed with intentions of turning and then the passing car causes a collision,” said Jerauld County Sherrif Jason Weber.  “My biggest safety message during harvest is to slow down, be courteous of slow moving equipment and follow speed limits.”

Harvest road safety reminders for motorists include:

Slow down, move over to the right in dusty conditions. 

Whenever peaking a hill, stop when visibility becomes zero

Never pass farm equipment while in no-passing zones

When passing slower large equipment, use turn signals to let the equipment driver know you are passing

Do not forget that sometimes this equipment will be turning into field driveways — not just onto another road.

Tips for farmers operating machinery include:

Be sure that “Slow Moving Vehicle” (SMV) emblems are bright and clean

Ensure that all equipment is well lit with frequent checks to ensure the lighting is working

Use signal lights before making any turns — especially when pulling right to make a wide left- hand turn.

Dusk and dawn travel avoidance is encouraged because visibility is reduced, so if possible, move equipment when it is light outside.

“Stress on farmers and travelers reduces decision- making skills, which could put everyone at risk,” Weber points out. “Plan on longer times to get to your destination and be patient while traveling there.”