Motorists to use caution, share the road with farm equipment during harvest

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

Harvest season is underway throughout the state and the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is urging motorists to use caution as large farm equipment is out on the roadways this time of year.

“Motorists should be extremely cautious as they drive, especially on rural, two-lane roads, as slow moving farm equipment is out on the roadways,” says Karin Mongeon, NDDOT Safety Division Director. “Most crashes are due to inattention, speeding and unsafe passing. When approaching farm equipment, motorists need to pay attention, slow down and pass with extreme caution.”

Farm equipment is very large and heavy making it extremely difficult for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop. These vehicles also have large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles.

In 2014, there was one fatal crash and 16 total crashes in North Dakota involving farm equipment. “By taking extra precautions on the roadway and safely sharing the road with farm equipment, crashes can be prevented,” stresses Mongeon.

Motorists are reminded to:

• Watch for mud and debris on the roadway as trucks go directly from the field onto the highway.

•Be aware that you can encounter farm equipment at any time of day.

•Drive with headlights on at all times.

•Wear seatbelts. Seat belts are your best protection against death and injury in the event of  a crash.

In addition, farmers are reminded of the opportunity to get 10 percent extra weight permits that can be issued to expedite the first haul of farm products during harvest. Additionally, farmers should be aware that road construction projects are finishing up this time of year as well. Some roads may be inaccessible to large farm equipment. For purchasing the 10 percent weight exemption permits go to www.nd.gov/ndhp.

Custom combiners need to have a permit and routinely check the Travel Information Map on the NDDOT website http://www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info-v2/. for width restrictions.

Farm equipment operators should consider the following precautions:

•Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.

•Use slow moving emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph.

•Consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.

For more information about construction projects and road conditions throughout North Dakota, call 511 from any type of phone or visit the Travel Information Map on the NDDOT website at http://www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info-v2/.