Farmers ask drivers to be patient on the roads

LODI, Wis. (WMTV)-- With harvest season underway, farmers are reminding drivers to share the roads for the safety of all.

Farmer Ryan Ripp drives his sprayer in Lodi.

Ryan Ripp owns a portion of his family dairy farm in Lodi. He said his tractors are on the road almost every day.

“We're feeding our cattle, so we have to get on our highway and drive a quarter mile down the road to my grandma’s place where we have more heifers to feed.”

He said he drives at about 25 mph on a 55 mph highway, adding that he struggles with drivers behind him who want to pass.

“We’ve had plenty of near misses,” Ripp said. “I can’t even count them on two hands because we’ve been driving that road for the last 15 years.”

It is illegal to pass farm equipment in a no passing zone, no matter the speed at which the equipment is traveling.

Ripp said left-hand turns are one of his biggest concerns. He has to wait for oncoming traffic, not knowing what move the cars behind him will make.

"You kind of get that empty gut feeling, that heart-beating-out-of-your-chest feeling,” he said. “You almost take responsibility for that person as well as your own because you're making the turn, and you can't control it."

“They’re being impatient, and, unfortunately, there have been tragic results,” Jim Hodges, the deputy sheriff at Dane County, said.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported 176 traffic-related crashes involving farm equipment in 2018. They have led to 71 injuries and seven deaths.