Pumpkins and fall leaves don’t just mean cooler temperatures: it also means large farm equipment on the roads.
Every year, harvest season finds farmers driving tractors, combines and other heavy equipment down roads drivers are accustomed to having to themselves.
Marty Marr, vice president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and a farmer in Morgan, Sangamon and Logan counties, says he knows it’s not fun getting stuck behind one of their ponderous pieces of equipment, especially during rush hour.
“We try to avoid those times: there’s been occasions where we’ve either traveled very, very early in the morning when there isn’t a lot of traffic or maybe different peak times during the day where we try to stay off the road if we can,” he said.
Sometimes, they have to get out there anyway, says Marr, but they do their best to inconvenience drivers as little as possible.
“If we can see a break in a roadway or a place we can get off, we’re always going to try to get off if we can to let people get around us, not hold that traffic back,” he said.
Marr asks motorists to be extra careful and look out for Slow Moving Vehicle signs.
“You can come up on a piece of equipment very fast – a lot of these tractors are traveling anywhere from 18 to maybe 30 mph,” he said.
Marr says there are no winners in a crash, but cars always come out worse.
“It can end badly,” he said. “I’ve seen situations where depending on the type of equipment they come up on – just say a plow or anything like that – I’ve heard of cars going underneath equipment like that and it can be rather tragic.”
Farmers do everything they can to make themselves as visible as possible including keeping their lights on and adding reflective tape, according to Marr.
He asks motorists to simply be patient with them as they work to feed America.
“When somebody shows us they’re well aware of the situation and they give us a break, so to speak, we’re very appreciative of it,” Marr said. “I always tip my hat, give them a wave and let them know we really do appreciate their patience while we’re out here.”