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Risk of farm vehicle accidents rise during harvest time

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Harvest time is coming soon -- and large farm vehicles face a larger risk of getting into crashes with a growing number of non-farmers. 

The state DOT said there were 1,400 collisions which involved farm machinery in the eight years ending in 2012. 25 died in those crashes, and over 700 were injured. 

Washington County dairy farmer Ross Bishop must drive up to 13 miles to get to his crops -- and he says it's a risky proposition sometimes. He said some drivers get upset as they try to pass his slow-moving farm vehicle on a two-lane road. Bishop says he smiles and waves when motorists give what he calls the "one finger salute." 

Brown County dairy farmer Mike Gerrits says that when traffic backs up behind him on Highway 57, he'll pull off to another road and let people pass. He says farmers do not try to cause bottlenecks.

State deputy agriculture secretary Jeff Lyon says a lot more people are living in the country -- thus creating more potential for farm and non-farm driving conflicts. 

Jim Ostrom of the Rosendale Dairy says it's a world economy these days, and many farmers are working nights and Sundays when they didn't have to do so in the past.

These are some of the issues being discussed as a state study group recommends changes in traffic laws involving farm machinery. The package is getting public hearings before it goes to the full Legislature.