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Harvest time means motorists should watch for machines

Harvest season means a lot of large machines on rural roads, and big grain trucks coming in and out of fields and farm driveways.

With more activity as the crops are brought in, drivers on all sides need to keep watch and share the road to stay safe, the Wisconsin State Patrol advised.

“This is an especially busy time of year for farmers, requiring motorists to be extra alert, patient and be very cautious when legally passing a farm vehicle,” said Capt. Ryan Chaffee of the WSP Northeast Region-Fond du Lac Post. “Ag vehicle operators have several responsibilities as well and must use appropriate lights, signage and signals and comply with weight restrictions.”

Over the past decade through 2018, Wisconsin saw a total of 1,707 traffic crashes involving agricultural equipment, resulting in 32 fatalities and 874 injuries.

Some safety tips for motorists and farm vehicle operators:

Motorist responsibilities —

— Scan the road ahead and be ready to slow down when you see slow-moving farm vehicles.

— Be patient and very cautious if you decide to pass. In Wisconsin, it is illegal to pass an ag vehicle or “implement of husbandry” in a no-passing zone.

— When passing, consider the possibility of the farmer turning left onto a roadway, driveway or field entrance.

Ag vehicle operator responsibilities —

— Know the lighting and marking requirements for ag vehicles. These requirements draw attention to the unique size, shape and speed of ag vehicles and alert motorists that caution is required. When traveling on a roadway, stay as far to the right as safely possible.

— Be familiar with road weight restrictions. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection provides a statewide map with information about weight limits. More information about related permits, exemption and weight limits can be found on the WisDOT website.

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