As harvest operations begin to ramp up, rural roads and highways will also see an uptick in large equipment, and motorists are asked to be alert and be patient as the equipment operators navigate to their destinations. A car or truck really has no chance against some of the large machinery, weighing sometimes more than 40,000 pounds, so on those 55 miles per hour county roads, be ready to slow way down.
Marv Ulmet, Bane Welker Application Equipment Specialist says you’ll also see the slow-moving vehicle signs when it’s time to slow.
“That is an orange and red triangle that we place on every piece of equipment nowadays, and that tells you that that machine will be running 25 MPH or less down the road,” he said. “We also have another way of telling motorists how fast the speed is. On a lot of newer equipment there will be a white circle and inside that circle will be a number. Many times, I see 30 inside there and that is 30 MPH and that is the max speed of those machines running down the road.”
As you approach, remember farm equipment operators may not have a good view of you.
“You have many blind spots when it comes to operating a combine, especially on the road,” Ulmet told HAT. “Many of the newer machines do have a camera, but sometimes we forget to clean that camera off as we go to enter the roadway, so we cannot see what is coming up behind us. So, just like on the back of a semi-trailer it says if you cannot see my mirrors, I cannot see you, if you’re following a piece of ag equipment and you cannot see their mirrors, they cannot see you.”
Ag equipment does have the right of way on county roads and can take up most or all of the roadway. Ulmet says be aware of your surroundings, especially if you have to get off the road to let oncoming equipment pass.
“If you can get your vehicle fully off the road, that would be great because it’s hard to get that large piece of equipment off the road. Also make sure whenever you pull off the edge and you may not be completely off the road, make sure across from you or near you there is not a light pole, a telephone pole, a mailbox, because it’s hard to maneuver that large equipment around even though that motorist has pulled off to the side. We don’t want to get in a situation where that large, heavy piece of equipment gets down into a ditch where we can damage fiber optic lines, telephone lines, any type of water service that may be running through on the edge of the road.”
The roads are about to get busy. Keep them safe by watching your speed and surroundings.