It’s that season. You are driving down a country road when you notice a combine harvester in front of you. You are traveling at 55 miles an hour; the combine is going 12. You slam on your brakes to avoid crashing into the farm machine.

As Wisconsin farms get larger, farmers must travel farther and farther between their fields. This means that passenger vehicles must share the road with farm equipment, especially at harvest time. Farm vehicles are designed to be efficient in the field, not on the road. Farm vehicles are slow. They are often wide and drivers may not be able to pass. Farmers are supposed to pull over to allow drivers to pass, but there may not be a safe place to stop. The drivers get frustrated, impatient, and angry.

Some drivers try to pass anyway. They force the farm worker to move to the side of the road. Others decide to fill the time by checking their emails or reading text messages. Either scenario could potentially cause a Wisconsin farm vehicle accident.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there have been about 1,400 Wisconsin traffic accidents involving farm machines since 2005. These accidents have caused 708 injuries and 25 fatalities.

Drivers in rural areas should watch for farm equipment, slow down if they see any, and exercise patience until the farm worker can get out of the way. Farmers should also do their part. Here are some Wisconsin farm vehicle accident prevention tips for farm workers who must drive machinery on public roads:

  • Follow traffic laws. Obey all traffic signals, yield when appropriate, and signal before turning.
  • Be seen. Farmers should label their vehicles with a reflective triangle that indicates a slow-moving vehicle. Mark the sides of the machinery with reflective tape and mount flashing warning lights on the front and back of any farm vehicle
  • Avoid using the roadway in low visibility conditions. Don’t operate farm equipment on public roads when rain, fog, snow or dust limits visibility to less than 1,000 feet. When visibility is low, drivers of faster moving vehicles may not have time to slow down and avoid a crash.
  • Stow your equipment responsibly. Put all equipment in transport position to avoid taking up space on the road.
  • Be considerate. When possible, pull over and allow other vehicles to pass. If your equipment is too wide to allow oncoming drivers to get by, you will need to provide escort vehicles to warn other drivers of your approach.

Wisconsin farm vehicle accidents can be very complicated. It is often difficult to determine liability without a thorough investigation. For this reason, it is important that both the farm vehicle operator and the passenger vehicle driver speak with a Madison accident attorney. Protect your rights; contact the experienced Wisconsin farm vehicle accident attorneys at Hupy and Abraham at 888-277-4879 to schedule a free consultation.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.