CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Ky. - Kentucky saw nearly 200 tractor-involved crashes in 2017, prompting transportation officials to ask motorists to be aware of slow moving machinery that'll be out in full force on rural roads through June.
"Many crashes involving farm equipment occur when motorists attempt to pass slow-moving equipment and misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic," said Keith Todd, Public Information Officer for Kentucky's Transportation Cabinet. "Or they are unaware that farm equipment is preparing to make a turn into a field or side road."
Joseph Sisk, who operates a 5,000 acre farm between Hopkinsville and Gracie said he sees impatient drivers make dangerous decisions more and more frequently.
"The equipment moves much slower than other vehicles do - typically in the 20 to 26 miles per hour range," Sisk said. "Of course, that’s much slower than people are used to driving with their vehicles, so that causes some conflict."
Sisk said drivers often don't realize farmers drive tractors in the middle of the road for safety reasons, not because they're purposely holding up traffic.
"We can’t see if they go to pass us," Sisk said. "And if they get beside us at the wrong time, we could have a collision."
Sisk said farmers will drive in the center of a road until they find a safe place to move over and allow traffic to pass, which usually takes between 4 and 5 minutes. But all too often, people choose to pass before it's safe.
"Just in the last two weeks we’ve had at least a half dozen vehicles pass us by going in the ditch and going around us," he said. "A lot of times when they do that, they do it at a high rate of speed and that’s really scary to watch."
Most farm machinery cannot exceed 25 miles per hour.
Additionally, Sisk said if a driver is coming toward a tractor, they should pull over on the shoulder in a location that is not obstructed by roadside barriers like mailboxes.
"They have no reason to know that’ll be a problem, but if you stop in front of a mailbox, we’re at a stalemate," Sisk said.
Tractors will be out regularly through the month of June and again in the fall for harvest.