With all sorts of heavy machinery on display in the agricultural areas of the Illinois State Fair, what better time and place to spread the word about safety? The Drought of 2012 means an early harvest for some, which means big, slow-moving vehicles are sharing the roads with the rest of us earlier than normal.
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“If you have to follow a tractor for two miles at 20 mph, it’s only going to take six minutes out of your day,” says Jack Campbell, chief deputy of the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department in Springfield. “That’s the equivalent of two red lights in town.” Campbell says many Illinois counties have one urban center, and drivers can quickly find themselves out in the country.
The usual safety tips apply: allow plenty of room between your vehicle and the one you’re following; pass only when legal and safe; and do not assume the driver of the tractor or combine ahead of you can see you. The Illinois Department of Transportation says collisions between cars and farm vehicles from 2009 to 2011 totaled more than 700, with 19 deaths and 283 injuries.