City dwellers may not give much thought to traffic accidents in rural areas, but they are far more common and deadly in Illinois than most Cook County residents realize. State transportation officials recorded 259 accidents involving farm machinery in 2011. Sixty-nine people suffered injuries.
A half dozen people died in farm equipment-related auto accidents during 2010 and again in 2011. One of the victims who did not survive was a Harvard farmer. The tractor the 66-year-old was driving was struck by a vehicle along Route 23 in McHenry County. The farmer died from injuries he received after being ejected from the overturned tractor.
In May, a Chevy Tahoe plowed into the rear of a rotary hoe attached to the tractor a farmer was driving near Marengo. Pieces of the hoe broke off during the impact and struck the farmer's shoulder and head. The injuries were slight, but the car was a total loss.
The volume and speed of cars and trucks along rural roads account for most of the farm equipment accidents, according to an official with the McHenry County Farm Bureau. Suburbs are encroaching on land that in the past was used almost exclusively for agricultural purposes. More residents in rural communities equal increased traffic and, subsequently, the chance for farm-related crashes.
Tractors are often the only farm vehicles on roadways that are lit. Equipment hauled behind farm tractors is usually marked with brightly-colored, triangular signs.
The slow pace of farm machinery causes impatience among some car and truck drivers who zip around the obstacles on rural roads, even in no-passing zones. Drivers can easily misjudge the width of the farm equipment they hope to circumnavigate.
Farm tractors are street legal vehicles outside cities and off state highways. Drivers who fail to acknowledge farmers' road rights can be held liable for car accidents that cause tractor operators injuries and deaths.
timesunion.com, "SPOTLIGHT: Motorists urged to watch for farmers" Emily K. Coleman, Jul. 11, 2013