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If you want a visual and were at Saturday's homecoming parade for Northern State University, think about the humongous John Deere tractor that was in the parade.

The big green one.

If you weren't there, it took up most of Aberdeen's Main Street. Think about a house moving down the street. It was a very similar scene.

And then think about the grain harvest going on all around us. Even those in the middle of Aberdeen are only a few short miles from the middle of farm country.

That big green machine and hundreds like it in different colors are great examples of what we encounter on the roads every fall.

Harvest time brings excitement, hope, opportunity and danger. All kinds of danger.

Not only are the roads full of big farm equipment, but also semi-trucks pulling tens of thousands of pounds of grains such as soybeans and corn.

These days, many of these semis are pulling not only one trailer, but another one as well. Fewer trips, but more length — equaling more opportunity for danger.

These long and extra-long semis need lots of room to turn. They need more of the road to travel, especially on gravel roads and narrower paved roads with small, narrow bridges.

Same with the farm equipment to harvest all those crops. The equipment seems to get bigger, taller and wider each fall.

And think about the space this big equipment needs to drive into and out of the fields. It needs the entire road and then some to avoid tipping into a ditch. Heavy equipment and slanted grass surfaces do not mix.

And this coming and going from fields often is an early morning to late night activity. So not only are there corners to be wary of, but there are at least one or two field entrances between every mile.

That is a lot to be watching out for. Plus, drivers of all this equipment are not only concerned about the turn they are making, but location of other drivers, shifting down and the correct positioning of their vehicle. It is a lot to focus on in a few seconds' time.

And all it takes is a few seconds to change someone's life forever.

And when these semis and big farm equipment prepare to turn, they need to start slowing down well before they turn. So a mile before their actual turn as they start to slow, that is about the same time the cussing begins sometimes of the driver or drivers behind them.

Every turn is an adventure, especially on narrow roads or field entrance approaches.

Yes, farmers, their workers and semi-drivers need to use extreme caution. But so do drivers in regular-sized vehicles.

Patience, focus and defensive driving are some of the best virtues to have when driving during harvest time.

Yes, you will be inconvenienced.

It is not uncommon for us to have traffic backed up for a long ways due to vehicles following farm equipment or semis that can't be passed.

It is not uncommon to find a lot of traffic where there is very little at other times of year.

It is not uncommon to come upon lines of semis on the road.

But this too will pass, even when we can't. Often, when it seems like we are being delayed by hours, it is only minutes.

And plus, you don't want to use road rage or take a stupid chance against farm equipment or semis.

Remember how big that stuff is compared to the vehicle you are driving. If you have an accident involving such big equipment, you are likely to be the loser.

And your life and the lives of others are way more precious than a few minutes of your time.

American News, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Oct. 4.


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