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KHP advises caution during harvest

Special to The Hays Daily News

Harvest season is underway in parts of the state, and the Kansas Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to use more caution and patience when traveling around farm trucks, tractors, combines and other farm implements.

Most farm equipment is not designed to travel at highway speeds, and might only be designed to travel 15 to 25 mph. Farm equipment is often wider than other vehicles, and is sometimes wider than the lane of traffic, so extra room should be allowed when traveling near a farm implement on the road. Extra caution should be practiced on all roads, but especially on the busy rural roads with unmarked intersections.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when sharing roads with farmers:

* Don't assume the farmer knows you're there. Most operators of farm equipment regularly check for vehicles behind them. However, most of their time must be spent looking ahead to stay on the road and to watch for oncoming traffic. Implements are extremely loud, hindering the farmer's ability to hear your vehicle.

* Pass with extreme caution. Don't pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the farm equipment you are passing. If there are curves or hills blocking your view of oncoming traffic, wait until you can clearly see the area you're passing. You should not pass in a designated "No Passing Zone," even if you are stuck behind a farm vehicle. Do not pass if you are within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel.

* Allow extra room when following farm equipment. With slow-moving vehicles, a passenger vehicle can close in on the empty space much more quickly. Just because a farm vehicle pulls to the right side of the road, does not mean it is turning right or allowing you to pass. Due to the size of some farm equipment, the farmer must execute wide left turns, so allow it plenty of room and time to turn, and be alert to see if there might be a driveway or field they might be turning into.

* Be patient. Don't assume a farmer can move to let you pass. Shoulders could be soft, wet or steep, which can cause the farm vehicle to tip, or the shoulder might not support the weight of a heavy vehicle. The farmer understands you are being delayed and will move at the first safe location available.

* Think of the slow-moving vehicle emblem as a warning to adjust your speed. When you see the slow-moving vehicle emblem, you should slow down immediately. While the emblems are visible from a long distance, it is often difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in on a vehicle, especially at night.

* Pay attention. When you are not focused solely on the road, you increase your chances of a collision, especially if you should come upon a slow moving farm vehicle.