Travel safely means being aware of the other driver

Dave Bergmeier

Memorial Day weekend means families are beginning—in many cases—summer travel and fun.

That is a great reward after a long a stretch of school activities and many other obligations the first five months of 2023. But there are reminders, too, that farmers and ranchers and those who support them—including custom harvesters—are using highways to get their work done. A farm family’s summer schedule is a busy one.

Younger family members may be out driving tractors and vehicles for the first time.Experience is a great teacher but so is well-heeded advice.

Technology can be wonderful tool but a Texas A&M study in 2022 indicated that while a GPS might provide the shortest suggested route it can also put a driver in harm’s way. The study by Dominique Lord and Soheil Sohrabi focused on five Texas metropolitan areas. Local roads may pose a higher risk of crashes include poor geometric designs, drainage problems, lack of lighting and a higher risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions—even if the maps show it is faster way.

The researchers have proposed a new system that would identify all safety and travel time factors when taking into account navigational plans. That research will need to continue and we applaud the researchers for taking an analytical approach. Too many people have read stories about what happens when drivers get confused because of over reliance on GPS. Some of those accidents have led to fatalities.

Gleaned from many years of observations we can share tips that can apply to urban and rural drivers.

• Never assume you have the road all to yourself;

• Watch for blind corners and intersections;

• The angle of the sun can make vision difficult;

• When approaching vehicles, particularly at night, you cannot always anticipate what the driver might do;

• Never drink and drive;

• Take enough breaks to stay alert;

• If you are going to use a cell phone, pull off the highway into a safe place to return or make a call; and

• Plan your trip well in advance.

Farmers and ranchers also need to be vigilant about their approach to safety because they operate larger pieces of equipment that can create congestion on highways. They also need to be courteous to oncoming traffic and motorists who are trailing behind.

When a passenger vehicle encounters a large piece of equipment or semi-tractor trailer it can create an unfortunate nightmare. As summer travel season begins, we hope that patience and common sense will help prevent many accidents. As in a sports analogy, a good defense beats a good offense every time.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].

Sign up for HPJ Insights

Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.