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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
Attorney • (800) 770-7008

Fall Field Work Is Near: Watch Out For Farm Equipment

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It’s a great time of year to take a scenic short cut across Minnesota, but, with fall field work around the corner farm equipment is back on the road. They can be slow and take up too much of the road, but these farmers are working.

We’ve represented a number of people who have been in collisions involving farm equipment. Rarely are the effects minimal. In 2007, five people died and 84 were injured in accidents with farm vehicles. In 2006, two people died and 62 were injured.

The University Of Florida Ag Department found:

Common Causes of Collisions

Nearly half of all incidents between motorists and farm implements involve one of two scenarios — the left-turn collision or the rear-end collision. The number of incidents involving each scenario is about equal.

A. Left-Turn Collision

The scenario: The left-turn collision occurs when the tractor is about to make a left turn at about the same time that a motorist tries to pass.

Why it happens: Like semi-tractor trailer drivers, a tractor driver sometimes needs to make wide left turns. It may be necessary to swing the tractor to the right before making a left turn because the extra room is needed to line up with a farm gate or driveway. This maneuver can confuse motorists, especially if they think that the tractor operator is moving over to let them pass.

B. Rear-End Collision

The scenario: The rear-end collision happens because a motorist doesn’t see the farm machinery in time.

Why it happens: It’s easy to misjudge speed when approaching a slow-moving vehicle. In most cases, there are only a few seconds to react and slow down. For example, if the motorist is driving 55 miles per hour and comes up on a tractor that’s moving 15 miles per hour, it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.

Another way of looking at it: If the driver of a car that is traveling at 50 miles per hour spots a tractor 400 feet ahead on the road and the tractor is moving at 20 miles per hour, the motorist has less than 10 seconds to avoid a rear-end collision.

In those ten seconds, the motorist must recognize that a dangerous situation exists, determine the speed at which the tractor is moving, decide what action to take and apply the brakes hard enough and long enough to avoid a collision.

The key is to slow down and keep a good look out.

Safety hints

Some safety hints from the Department of Public Safety:

• Give farm vehicles and hauling trailers more space and remember that they normally travel more slowly.

• The leading cause of crashes is improper or unsafe passing. Large farm equipment is hard to see around, especially on two-lane roads.

• Watch for debris falling from the vehicles. If there is debris, it’s safer to brake or drive through it than steer into oncoming traffic or go off the road.

• Most crashes involving farm vehicles occur in the harvesting months of September, October and November.

So slow down and let the farmers do their jobs.