Sheriff’s office urges extra caution and awareness on rural roadways during harvest season
It’s that time of year here in the Magic Valley when motorists see an increase of farm equipment on the roadways.
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Here in the Magic Valley, it seems as though there are more and more deadly accidents on the roadways, as the area continues to grow. Now local law enforcement is sending out a reminder to motorists in an effort to keep the rural parts of the county safe for travelers.
As the leaves change colors and the weather begins to cool, motorists start to see an increase of farm equipment on the roadways in Twin Falls County, as producers shuttle equipment from one field to another, from daylight to dark.
“This time of the year we are hauling sugar beets, edible beans, alfalfa hay, straw,” said Twin Falls County farmer David Patrick.
In an effort to keep the roadways safe from reckless drivers, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office recently put out a Facebook post reminding drivers, that on a two-lane highway outside an urban area, the driver of a vehicle, traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic, and behind which are three or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout.
“The law is in effect for the safety of everyone on the roads for farmers and the general motoring public, just so everyone can get to where they need to safely,” said Twin Falls County Sherriff’s Patrol Deputy Brook Prudent. “We get a good handful of accidents from reckless drivers.
Patrick said some harvesting equipment has a header on it that is 16 feet wide and most backcountry roads are 18 to feet wide. He admits he has had instances where he has had up to ten cars behind him while he was transporting equipment. However, it isn’t that easy for producers to pull off the road, as it can be miles before they can find a safe turnout.
“There are no turnouts. There are mailboxes. There are driveways. There are roads. You pull off those roads in those spots you are going to break someone’s sprinklers...mailboxes...damage their driveway, ” Patrick said.
Additionally, he said there are times when motorists exhibiting impatience intentionally or unintentionally run producers off the road. To address the issue he said he tries to adjust he has travel times to when there is very little traffic on the road or transportation routes that are less likely to be used by motorists.
“But every so often I have to go on a busy road,” Patrick said.
Prudent said motorists can also help producers by avoiding areas that have a heavy agricultural presence, and using alternate routes when traveling to and from work.
The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office said the fine for impeding traffic is $90, but Prudent said that fine would not be issued to a producer if there was no available turnout for them to use. Additionally, he said reckless drivers who try to run producers off the road and put other motorists at risk can be cited for a misdemeanor with jail time and a fine.
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