Farm safety and health week encourages drivers to slow down near farms this harvest season

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- Fall means harvest season for farmers across the stateline, yet farming is still considered one of the most dangerous professions in the United States with 581 fatalities each year.

"Obviously we don’t want anyone to get hurt at any job, but especially with our relationship with our farmers, we want those guys to be safe," said Country Financial rep, Tyler Hoffman.

The Illinois Farm Bureau wants to change those statistics. Farm safety and health week starts September 15 and the bureau is partnering with Country Financial to raise awareness about hazards during harvest season.

"Slow down, take your time, be safe," says Jeff Young with Country Financial.

"The harvest is their livelihood, they're in a hurry to get things done. We see accidents happen usually because somebody's in a hurry. I know that I tell my farmers all the time slow down, be safe, but get it done."

This year’s theme ‘Shift Farm Safety into High Gear’ aims to teach farmers practical ways they can stay safe on the roadways, like getting a proper amount of sleep and using flashers on vehicles when pulling out of fields.

To reduce the numbers of farm incidents both on and off the road the two organizations urge drivers to slow down and be alert when driving past farms this fall.

"Obviously the farmers are trying to get in and out of the fields as fast as possible, but at the same time that happens to with folks maybe trying to get to and from work as fast as possible,” said Hoffman.

“It's frustrating I know when they get behind a piece of farm machinery, but these guys are using bigger pieces of equipment than they ever have, you know being stuck behind them for a few extra minutes is not going to hurt you at the end of the day."

Both organizations also encourage drivers to check the lights on farm vehicles to gauge the size of the equipment before attempting to pass, and be extra alert whenever farm implements are nearby.