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Harvest season awareness on Wisconsin highways
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/22/2023

As Wisconsin enters harvest season, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are urging drivers and farm vehicle operators to exercise patience and caution on the state's roadways.

WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson emphasized the importance of safety during this time, with over 2,000 crashes involving farm vehicles recorded in the past five years. These accidents are often preventable with increased awareness and responsible road-sharing.

Agriculture is a crucial sector in Wisconsin, employing more than 435,000 individuals and contributing over $104.8 billion annually to the state's economy. With 64,100 farms spanning 14.2 million acres, encounters between drivers and farm vehicles are common in all 72 counties. Both parties can take steps to ensure road safety during the harvest season.

Drivers should exercise caution by scanning the road ahead for slow-moving farm vehicles and being prepared to slow down when encountering them. Passing should be done with extreme care, and drivers should never attempt to pass an agricultural vehicle in a no-passing zone, as this is illegal in Wisconsin. When passing, drivers should also consider the possibility of the farmer turning left onto a roadway, driveway, or field entrance.

Farm vehicle operators are equally responsible for safety. They must ensure that their machinery complies with the necessary lighting and marking requirements. These requirements are essential to drawing attention to the unique size, shape, and speed of agricultural vehicles, alerting motorists to exercise caution. When traveling on a roadway, farm vehicle operators should stay as far to the right as safely possible.

Farm vehicle operators must also be aware of road weight restrictions. The state provides a map with information about weight limits, and additional details, including permits, exemptions, and weight limit information, are available on the WisDOT website.

Both drivers and farm vehicle operators play a vital role in ensuring safe road-sharing during the harvest season. By adhering to these guidelines, they can contribute to a safer and more efficient harvest for everyone involved.

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