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September 12, 2006

Harvest Season Begins, Motorists and Farmers Must Share the Road
Motorists Urged to Slow Down; Farmers Reminded to Get Overweight Permits

SPRINGFIELD-Harvest season is underway throughout Illinois and The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) today are urging motorists to be aware that tractors and farm equipment are out on the roadways.  Farmers are also reminded to get overweight permits during harvest season, but they need to pay special attention to posted roads and bridges.

“For the next eight to ten weeks, as grain is harvested and transported to market, motorists may encounter an increased number of slow moving farm vehicles on the roadway,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said.  “During this time, I'm asking motorists for their patience and understanding.  Nobody wants to be stuck behind a combine, but it is absolutely essential that farm and non-farm vehicles share the roadway.  Agriculture is vital to our economy, and farmers have a limited time in which to harvest their crops.”

In 2005, there was one fatality involving crashes between cars and farm equipment, the lowest total since 2001.  Over the past five years there have been 1,423 crashes involving farm equipment on Illinois roads, resulting in 32 deaths and 344 injuries.

Vehicle vs. Farm Equipment Crashes

2005:  359 crashes 1 fatality     83 injuries

2004:  293 crashes 9 fatalities   77 injuries

2003:  237 crashes 8 fatalities   48 injuries

2002:  268 crashes 8 fatalities   67 injuries

2001:  266 crashes 6 fatalities   69 injuries

Farmers may get permits allowing for overweight travel to and from fields and storage facilities.  The permits allow them to be between 10 and 20 percent over legal weight depending on truck size. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed the overweight harvest permits into law in 2004 in order to help our farmers be more competitive globally by reducing overhead costs associated with the harvest.

“With higher fuel costs squeezing already tight profit margins, this allows farmers to cut down on the number of trips they have to make between their fields and elevators, saving time and fuel,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “We need to balance that with preserving our valuable infrastructure and I urge farmers to make sure they are within their weight limits, especially on posted roads and bridges.”

As with all permits for operating over-dimension and over-weight vehicles on public roads, the jurisdiction on whose roads the vehicle will be operated is the only authority that may issue the permit. This could mean that farmers may need two, three, or more permits for a single trip.  It is possible for one jurisdiction to authorize another to issue permits on its behalf, which can be especially helpful to farmers when arranged among counties and townships. The jurisdictions and authorities you will need to contact for a permit are:

• Township roads-Highway Commissioner
• Road District Roads-Highway Commissioner
• County Highways-County Engineer
• City Streets-City Streets Department
• State Highways-Illinois Department of Transportation

Motorists are encouraged to visit www.dot.state.il.us/tpublic.html#Truckers to get the most updated information on legal weight limits on specific routes and information on legal load bridges.  National Farm Safety Week begins September 17.


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