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Farmer in rural Nebraska warns drivers of springtime hazards

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 10:05 PM CDT
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OAKLAND, Neb. (WOWT) - We are entering a dangerous time on the roads in rural Nebraska and Iowa.

Farmers are on the road with heavy equipment and with that in mind, we’re urged to drive with caution. Farming is in Kenneth Johnson’s blood.

“I like growing crops. I like livestock. Everything about it, I love it,” said Johnson.

Putting in double-digit hours is not uncommon, as he works in rural Oakland, Nebraska. He says operating these huge implements under fatigue can be dangerous, though he is careful.

But he can’t always say the same for others.

“Someone that’s following me, doesn’t know where I’m going to turn,” said Johnson.

Even with signals, it’s not always easy for others to understand how farmers have to maneuver the road.

“If someone I know is gonna pass, looks like it’s gonna be a head-on collision, I might slide over a little bit just so you won’t get around. So you don’t have a head-on collision. People might get mad but there’s a reason why,” said Johnson.

This is why he says during this hectic planting season when thousands of farmers have to share the road with drivers, that they really need your patience and attention.

“When I see a bunch of people behind me, I try to pull over. Let everybody pass, I’m not trying to hog the road. When they pass you, they’re looking in their cell phone, they’re texting, and everybody’s in a hurry,” said Johnson.

OSHA says speed, impatience, and left-hand turns are some of the leading causes of accidents involving farm machinery in the spring.

“I can’t see out of my cab window. You look back there, I can’t see a single car behind me,” said Johnson.

Those leading causes mixed with distracted drivers can make for a deadly combination. Kenneth runs a farm with his brother Larry, they’ve been fortunate not to have been in any farming accidents.

But a tragedy involving a fellow farmer a year ago still tugs at their hearts.

“Guy passed a tractor on the corner. He’s gonna turn. Got hit, killed a guy on a tractor,” said Johnson.

Kenneth says most farmers prefer to be in the field, not on the road. Even something as small as a mailbox on the street forces them to slowly maneuver around and take up more of the road.

“They might think I’m just gonna pull off here, but I might be waiting for a larger vehicle. Or I might pull off to let you pass or I might be turning into a field. So there’s like three judgment calls that could be possibly happening,” said Johnson.

Kenneth says he simply enjoys feeding the world so on behalf of all farmers, please don’t speed past their tractors and consider courtesy the next time you’re sharing pavement.

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