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With this year’s prolonged planting season keeping the county’s farmers traveling to and from their fields, the Fayette County Farm Bureau and other organizations are reminding motorists of the dangers of sharing the roads with oversized agricultural equipment.
“We want drivers to remember that tractors and combines can only move at speeds of 10-20 miles per hour,” said Ken Cripe, president of the Fayette County Farm Bureau board.
To remind drivers of the dangers, four groups have combined to produce three banners that will be displayed in various high-traffic areas around the county. They will display the message: “Caution. Slow Down. Share The Road.”
To start with, those banners are at the Farm Bureau office on Sunset Drive, and at two locations along U.S. Route 51 (one about five miles north of Vandalia and one about five miles south).
Sponsoring the banners are: the Farm Bureau, South Central FS, Country Financial and the Illinois State Police.
“We have to move from field to field,” Cripe said, “and motorists need to be prepared to slow down when they come up behind us. Farmers try to move over to let motorists get by, when possible.”
Tractors and other farm equipment are required to have the triangular “slow moving vehicle” emblem displayed on the back of the equipment. Those emblems should tip off motorists that the vehicles are moving considerably slower than highway speed for other vehicles.
“Drivers need to remember not to put others in a dangerous situation,” said Adam Braun, chairman of the Farm Bureau’s Young Leaders committee. “Before going around farm equipment, they need to make sure that they are in a passing zone and that there is no oncoming traffic.”
Cripe added: “There is the most potential for danger when motorists are coming up behind equipment and at bridges (where the farmer must move his equipment farther into the roadway to avoid hitting the bridge. No passing zones are dangerous, too, because people are tempted to take chances.”
Marshel said that the campaign’s goal is to prevent accidents.
“We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t had any serious accidents in recent years,” he said. “We want to keep it that way.”
Currently, most of the farm machinery on the roads is tractors pulling tillage equipment or planters. Marshel noted that within the next month, combines will join them as winter wheat becomes ready for harvest.