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Booms pose travel danger, even when folded

view from driver's seat of sprayer
FROM THE CAB: Here’s the view from the driver’s seat of a modern sprayer. Note how far back you would be from the intersection, with the hood out front and booms on each side. Can you pull out safely?
Commentary: Ease out carefully with the sprayer at intersections to avoid accidents.

The talk at the meeting that day was about driving sprayers safely on the road. Fred Whitford, director of Purdue University Pesticide Programs, said making left turns from the road into a field or driveway is one of the danger points.

A farmer sitting next to me in the audience leaned over. “I’m hiding behind you because I don’t want to get called on,” he said. “Hope you don’t mind.” Whitford is a get-in-your-face, “Have you ever done this on the road before?” kind of speaker. But what the heck — he had already embarrassed me for coming in late!

“He really makes some good points, though,” the farmer whispered. “My biggest problem is seeing when I pull up to the intersection in my sprayer. Even folded-up booms extend several feet in front of the cab. The operator’s seat is several feet back from the front of the sprayer. I’m always concerned about edging out, especially if there are trees at an intersection or corn is tall. I just do the best I can — ease out and hope there isn’t a truck whizzing by.”

I didn’t have a good solution for the farmer. I really hadn’t thought about it. Then I remembered sitting in a sprayer cab recently while checking out new sprayer technology. Even with improved visibility and a streamlined cab hood, folded booms are an issue. 

The Indiana General Assembly entertained a bill about cutting corn at road intersections. They didn’t act. Maybe they need to expand that discussion to address situations where an operator is several feet behind the line of sight when the machinery’s front end is flush with the crossroad.

I’m glad that farmer brought the problem to my attention. Beginning a discussion could someday prevent accidents waiting to happen.

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