PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As Illinois enters the fall harvest season, it’s important for drivers to be mindful of tractors and other heavy farm equipment on the roadways.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recorded 1,252 crashes involving “farm equipment whose primary use is agriculture” from 2018 to 2022. Of those, 22 were fatal.
“If you get into a crash with a piece of farm equipment. You’re usually going to lose,” said Illinois State Police Trooper Josh Robison.
Patrick Kirchhofer, manager of Peoria County Farm Bureau, said the most important thing for drivers is to have patience. Don’t text when you drive and be aware of your surroundings.
“That farm machinery, it can only travel at a maximum of speed of around 25 mph. If you’re traveling 55 or 60, you can approach and be upon that farm equipment in the blink of an eye,” he said.
Kirchhofer said one of the most dangerous situations for farmers is making a left hand turn, especially if there is an added obstacle in the way.
“It’s hard for them to see behind their equipment…So, if you cannot see the rearview mirror they probably cannot see you, unless they have a rearview camera mounted on their camera…It’s hard for them to stay in their lane all the time if they are approaching narrow bridges or mailboxes along the road, culverts along the road, or other structures they may need to get around,” he said.
Farm equipment can be recognized by an orange triangle emblem on the back. Robinson said to use caution when passing farm equipment, as it can be deadly or even illegal in some cases. Improper passing is one of the most common reasons for crashes involving farm equipment.
“They get in a hurry. They don’t want to wait. ..They might not get over enough as they pass and they don’t take into consideration how wide, how large that farm equipment is, and they strike it while they’re going beside it,” said Robinson.
Farmers also have a role to play in keeping roadways safe.
“They need to make sure they do their part to share the road. They know they’re in large equipment, they have to keep everything over to their half or their side of the road,” said Robinson.
“Farmers, they need to be aware of their situation, They need to drive defensively and realize somebody may be behind them that may not be familiar with them making a left hand turn. So they need to slow down, have the proper mirrors or rearview cameras…If there’s an opportunity to pull along the side of the road if there are a lot of vehicles behind them, it would be a courteous thing to do,” added Kirchhofer.