By Glenn Brunkow
One day I was hauling hay; it was my fifth or sixth load of the day, and I had been hauling hay for the better part of a week. It was probably all too routine. I was making a left-hand turn off a highway onto a county road. I looked in my rearview mirror and did not see anyone before I started to turn. That was when I saw the Subaru that had decided to pass me.
Thankfully, nothing more happened than the driver squealing their brakes and shaking their fist at me, but it could have been much worse. I have had a couple of farmer friends who have had worse experiences sharing the highways with other motorists. Thankfully, none of them were seriously hurt, but the damage to farm equipment was not something they had planned to deal with, I am sure.
Let me be the first to say I was not without fault. Upon inspection, I learned my left-turn signal was not working. However, if I remember my driver’s ed classes right, it is not permissible to pass on a double yellow line or at an intersection. Along with that, following so close to a trailer that the driver in front of you cannot see you is not good either.
My point is that all drivers need to share the road, and those roads are starting to get even more crowded with slow-moving ag equipment as harvest starts. As ag producers we need to make sure our equipment has working lights and turn signals. We need to be aware of who is around us on the roads and have a plan of action that assumes other drivers will not do the right thing. If at all possible, move equipment at times when the road is less crowded.
If you are driving during harvest, please, give the equipment plenty of room. Stay far enough back to see the rearview mirrors of the vehicle ahead of you because that will mean they can also see you. Farm equipment moves slowly so take that into account as you approach. You will close the gap much faster than you may realize. Please, never pass near an intersection. Yes, farm equipment will slow your drive down…again, please take a deep breath. Don’t be in such a rush that you pass in a bad place or at the wrong time. That farmer is growing the food you are rushing home to put on your table.
I got lucky, and I am using that fortunate moment as a reminder to be more vigilant when I am on the road. It only takes a second, a blink for things to go bad. Take the time to slow down, make the right decisions and be courteous. We are all in this together, we have to share the same road. Let’s all be safe and make sure we make it home.
Glenn Brunkow is a farmer and Farm Bureau leader in Kansas. This column was originally published by Kansas Farm Bureau and is republished with permission.