Beware of tractors

I was driving to work earlier this week, headed south on U.S. 59 and following a semi-truck loaded with several skid loaders. Up ahead, I saw a huge tractor on tracks pulling a 5 million-bottom plow.

The tractor was stopped at the end of a gravel road. As I got closer, the darned thing pulled out in front of the semi-truck full of skid loaders, causing the driver of the semi to hit the brakes quickly. Following behind, I did the same, trying to ignore the sudden mental images of the semi-trailer rolling and tossing a skid loader into my lap.

I know the farmers are hurrying to get in the field and get moving, but is it really worth people’s lives to get there one second faster than if the guy would have waited for the semi and me to go by? He was at a full stop at the end of a gravel road and we were going 55 miles per hour down a major highway.

I try to be patient when following a huge piece of equipment, but am also wanting to get where I’m going as much as the farmer wants to get where he or she is going.

Rural rush hour. That is what they call it here during the times when the tractors are all over the roads. The Minnesota State Patrol and Department of Public Safety put out numerous warnings for drivers to beware of tractors and other farm equipment, but I often wonder what they are sending out to the farmers.

Do they get notices saying, “Go ahead, you are bigger than all other vehicles and the road is yours. Do what you want.” I seriously doubt it.

Maybe they should tell the farmers things like, “Try using a back road instead of an interstate. Wait for traffic to pass instead of pulling out in front of a line of 30 cars. Get on the side of the road so vehicles can see around you. Work with the other motorists, not against them.”

That may sound a little harsh, but after almost ending up wearing a skid loader that morning, I’m feeling a bit harsh. I know all the guy was doing was trying to get to work, but guess what? That’s all I was doing, too.