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Our View: Be cautious near tractors

Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Farm-related deaths attributed to roadway collisions in Illinois reached its peak in 2004, according to Country Financial data.

Ten people died that year in roadway-related farming deaths. That number dropped to one in 2006, but has held steady between four and seven deaths per year since then.

Spring planting season is about to kick into high gear. As tractors and other farm implements traverse roads in McHenry County’s farming areas during the next few weeks, we ask that you slow down to avoid becoming a statistic.

There were 20 farm deaths in Illinois between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, including the death of Marengo farmer Mancel “Butch” Beard, who was in his tractor when it was struck by a car. The leading cause of death was tractor runovers and rollovers; roadway collisions ranked second for the fourth year in a row, accounting for seven deaths.

There was some good news: The 20 farm-related deaths were 19 fewer than the previous year. The Illinois Department of Agriculture provides the following tips for motorists during spring planting season:

• Pay attention and don’t drive distracted.

• When you see a slow-moving vehicle, slow down.

• If you have to pass, do so with extreme caution and only when you know it is safe.

• Be patient. A farmer can’t always move over to let motorists pass. If you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you. Farm machinery operators may not be able to see you because the large equipment or a load can block part of their rear view.

Farmers can play a role, too:

• Avoid traveling on roads during peak traffic hours when moving farm equipment.

• When moving equipment, use escort vehicles that closely follow the farm equipment to afford the highest visibility and warning.

• Pull over to allow traffic to pass only when road and shoulder conditions are safe.

We can have a safe planting season on our roadways if everyone plays their part.

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