Drivers should be aware this time of year of tractors that are on the road. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Drivers should be aware this time of year of tractors that are on the road. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Those driving down rural roads during heavy harvest season can’t possibly know what might be lurking on the other side of a hill, says Van Wert Ohio State University Extension agent Curtis Young.

“There could be a combine, other large harvest machinery, tractors pulling wagons or another vehicle trying to dodge farm machinery,” said Young. “In some of the extreme western part of our county or adjoining Adams County in Indiana, there could also be an Amish buggy behind the equipment. Caution is really needed as things can become extremely complicated."

“The public needs to appreciate the fact that they are sharing the road with large equipment, grain trucks and wagons,” said Young. “Farm machinery can’t respond as fast as the cars can respond to them. This is high activity time. Patience needs to be a part of the non-farming public theseday.”

Young advised extreme caution and patience when stuck behind a large piece of farm equipment. He noted that trying to pass such equipment can be extremely dangerous.

“Trying to pass large equipment on county roads can be extremely dangerous,” said Young. “I know of too many situations where an impatient driver tried to pass such equipment and ended up with a very terrible effect. There are tons of obstructions out there, especially at night."

“Ultimately, a study shows that ending up behind such equipment doesn’t waste any more time than waiting through two stop lights,” continued Young.

“The farmer has to take as much responsibility for safety as the general public,” cautioned Young. “If you are moving a combine from field to field, don’t leave the header on the combine. There’s not enough room to drive down the road if the header is left on the equipment. Make sure that all lights are functioning on vehicles and that ‘slow moving’ signs are clean and observable.”

Young noted that it is necessary for farmers to be mindful of their flashing lights. He noted that a driver following equipment with lights flashing all of the time can become hypnotized.

“It might be a good idea, especially when you are going to turn, to turn off the flashing lights so that the driver is alerted that some kind of change is about to take place,” said Young.

Young stressed that farmers should make sure that there is working fire equipment in each vehicle. He also advocated good communication between the farmers in the field.

“A left hand turn is the worst,” noted Young. “When somebody following equipment sees the driver swerve to the right to make a left hand turn, he may think it is turning right and they can go around the left side.

“Sometimes it is better to hog the road when making a left hand turn so that vehicles won’t attempt to pass the combine,” added Young.

“Most important, observe extreme safety and caution around grain,” stressed Young. “If grain starts moving, one can be sucked underneath in moments.”