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Illinois motorists urged to accommodate late-season farm traffic

Farmers and motorists are subject to the season's whims and plan accordingly. Farmers plant and harvest around nature's temperature and precipitation cycles. Cook County motorists meet challenging road conditions by weatherizing vehicles, honing defensive driving skills and adjusting trip times.

Rain was too plentiful last spring for Illinois farmers to plant as early as they had hoped. The delayed growing season and a late summer stretch of drought pushed back harvesting times from September to October and later. Farmers are scrambling to bring in crops before an extended cold snap affects the crops' quality. Intense dawn-to-dusk farm labor increases the chance of accidents on and off roadways.

The majority of Illinois farm-related deaths recorded between the summers of 2012 and 2013 involved vehicles accidents. A dozen victims died when tractors overturned or moving farm equipment or pedestrians were struck along rural roads. Twelve deaths was a small number compared to fatalities that occurred during the previous year, when 38 people died.

Roadside harvesting equipment will be out in full force as farmers push to wrap up the season. Farmers rushing to complete the day's work may be inattentive or fatigued as they travel along state roads. Drivers who lose patience behind slow moving farm traffic are tempted to pass illegally. The result can be car accidents, serious injuries and death.

Farm equipment operators like pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists have road rights that car and truck drivers sometimes ignore. Motorists can make a traffic delay seem like a personal slight rather than a routine part of frequently changing traffic patterns. The prevention of some motor vehicle accidents may have more to do with a change in attitude than it does with driving ability.

Civil courts determine negligence and subsequent compensation for plaintiffs based on a litigant's behavior, not the mode of a party's transportation at the time of a crash.

Source:, "Safety urged as farmers start fall harvest across Illinois" Chris Green, Oct. 01, 2013

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