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Fall driving means more than watching out for school buses, motorists must also pay close attention to the possibility of encountering large, slow-moving harvest equipment while traveling on country roads.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation wants to urge motorists to use caution and share the road with harvest equipment during harvest.
Wheat harvest is underway in and around Barnes County, and corn and soybean harvest is close behind. With the size of newer farm equipment, which can be frequently found on the roads this time of year, said Tim Gillespie, Multi-Agency Truck Regulatory Deputy, motorists should use caution when sharing the road with harvest equipment, and farmers should be courteous when using public roads.
According to Gillespie, the biggest danger comes from combines with attached corn heads, which are literally as wide as most roads. Drivers of these combines should be extra cautious and courteous enough to pull over as far as possible and stop or proceed very slowly.
Another problem is the variance in speed, according to Gillespie. While the speed limit on the road may be 55 or even 65 miles per hour, the fastest combines and tractors may only go 25 miles per hour, most travel much slower.
Motorist need to be prepared to slow down or stop when driving during harvest.
Also, Gillespie said, motorists should use extra caution when passing farm equipment on the left as the machinery may be making a left-hand turn into a field approach and most equipment has large blind spots making it difficult to see a smaller vehicle. Motorists should watch for field approaches on the left before passing.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation offers these tips to motorists:
*Watch for mud and debris on the roadway as trucks go directly from the field onto the highway.
*Be aware that farm equipment may be encountered any time of day.
*Drive with headlights on at all times.
*Wear seat belts.
Farmers should be aware that road construction projects are winding up this time of year making some roads inaccessible to large farm equipment.
Farm equipment operators should consider the following precautions:
*Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.
*Use show moving emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 miles per hour.
* Consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment especially at night.
Read this story in Thursday's Times-Record.