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Safe Driving During Planting Season

- April 10, 2017 by Dan Heinen, ASP (View all posts by Dan)

Farmers have a limited window of opportunity to plant crops. Weather can be a major factor in diminishing this window so they try to make the most progress when they have the chance to do so. Often this means long hours preparing the ground for planting and planting.

With the advances on GPS systems in today’s tractors and computerized planters, farmers can (and often do) work late into the night since it is now possible to plant rows straight as an arrow with limited visibility due to such things as fog or darkness.  What does this mean? It means you are more likely to see large slow-moving farmer equipment during peak travel times (morning and evening), as well as during in climate weather (rain) as farmers move from field to field. Often while “this particular field” may not have soil conditions suitable to be planted, another one several miles down the road may be fine.

So, here are a few things to think of and be aware of during planting season:

  • Tractors – Tractors are big… and slow. It is easy to come up on them a lot faster than one realizes and in a tractor vs. passenger vehicle accident, the tractor wins.
  • Trucks – Watch for trucks hauling implements such as planter heads, or anhydrous tanks as they also travel at a slower speed than the posted limit.
  • Sudden Turns – You may come across a fertilizer truck on a side road that isn’t quite familiar with the location of the field entrance in which case they may suddenly hit the brakes to turn left or right. Give them room and don’t pass unless you know which way they are turning.
  • Passing – If you feel the need to pass, make sure you can clearly see the oncoming traffic lane. Often, due to the size of the equipment it is very difficult to see the oncoming traffic lane.
  • Mud – Mud may be tracked onto the road causing slick conditions or at times, clumps have fallen off the tires which may either cause damage to your vehicle if hit. Or you may lose control of your vehicle trying to swerve around it/them.
  • Road rage – Getting caught behind a tractor for a mile or so is no different than sitting at several stop lights in a row.

You may have an important job, meeting or other appointment; but the men and women that farm have an important one as well. Have patience this season when you encounter them.


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