ROCHESTER (AP) -- Farmer Ken Bourquin has had his share of driving hassles. When he crawls down local roads with his farming machinery, he gets some nasty hand signals and dirty looks from irate drivers stuck behind him. Impatient drivers, frustrated with his creeping pace, don't hesitate to whip out in front of him.
''It seems like they have no patience for you,'' said Bourquin, an Olmsted County farmer. ''They just don't wait.''
But that impatience can sometimes lead to danger.
''People pass you and lose it, especially on gravel,'' said Rochester farmer Tom Pyfferoen. ''I've seen people try to pass me and end up in the ditch.''
An analysis in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health questioned whether motorists realize farm vehicles are turning or misjudge the speed of the turn. It also said the numbers may suggest that motorists simply don't realize how slow farm vehicles move.
''I don't think most people have a sense of how farming machinery works,'' said Lisa Behnken, Olmsted County Extension educator in agriculture. ''They're not as connected to agriculture anymore.''
Tractors operate like big trucks, making turns difficult and dangerous. In Rochester, it is especially tough for farmers to cross heavily traveled U.S. 52, Behnken said.
''Trying to find that window of opportunity to get through is difficult,'' Behnken said.
Some Olmsted County farmers try to avoid the problem by bending their schedules around peak traffic times. But that's not always possible.
When Pyfferoen's on the road, he says he tries to make it easier on drivers.
''If there's enough of a shoulder, I'll get over and let them pass,'' he said. ''But we don't always have that opportunity.'' Ditches, mailboxes and private property can make it tough for farmers to squeeze to the side.
Sometimes drivers get so cranky, they exhibit signs of rural road rage.
''The biggest thing I see is the speed,'' Pyfferoen said. ''Sometimes they'll get right in front of me and then slow down to an even slower speed than I was going. I don't know what point they're trying to prove.''
Semi-truck drivers are the most courteous to farmers, said farmer Jim Larsen, and people in small cars tend to be the worst. Larsen, who has farmed in the Rochester area all his life, said airbags and other safety precautions have made matters worse.
''People have a false sense of security,'' Larsen said.
Behnken suggests that farmers' slow pace aggravates drivers who are already frustrated with other road hassles. They just need to be a little more patient, she said.
''Farmers do appreciate when drivers slow down and practice common courtesy,'' Behnken said. ''The roads are for everyone. They have a right to be there, too.''
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