With temperatures on the rise, more farmers will be out in their fields, which means slow-moving farm equipment will soon be on Indiana roadways. To keep motorists and farmers safe this planting season, several state agencies have partnered together to encourage Hoosiers to be alert, slow down and share the road with farm equipment.
“As a top agricultural state, whether you live in rural, urban or suburban Indiana, a majority of motorists will come across large farm equipment on the road this planting season,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “We want to encourage every Hoosier to be mindful, slow down and share the road, which will not only ensure their safety, but also the safety of our farmers.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, farm equipment vehicles (other than trucks) were involved in 92 fatal crashes across the nation, with six of those occurring in Indiana.
By law, farm equipment must have the nationally designated slow-moving vehicle sign – a red triangle-shaped reflector – to warn drivers that their equipment is on the road. These vehicles often travel at speeds no higher than 25 mph.
“Roadway safety is a priority of the Indiana State Police, especially when large farm machinery will be crossing state and county roads to farm fields during the planting season,” said Indiana State Police (ISP) Superintendent Doug Carter. “Patience, courtesy and understanding, along with the undivided attention of farmers and the traveling public will help ensure a safe 2018 growing season.”
The following list includes several safety tips for motorists approaching large farm equipment:
- Most farmers will pull over when they are able to let you pass, but it may take time for them to get to a safe place to do so. Be patient.
- Farm equipment is wide, sometimes taking up most of the roadway. Be careful when passing.
- Do not pass if you are in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevation structure, or tunnel.
- Do not try to pass a slow-moving vehicle on the left without ensuring that the vehicle is not planning a left turn. It may appear that the driver is pulling over for you to pass when it is actually preparing to turn. You will drive right into its path, endangering yourself and the farmer.
- Avoid tailgating, as some farm equipment might have to make sudden stops along the road.
- Allow plenty of time to get to your destination, be aware of alternate routes and avoid distractions.
“Due to the size of our equipment, people will often see us before we see them,” said Zach Cain, a Montgomery County farmer. “It’s important to be patient. Farmers don’t want to hold up traffic, but it can take us some time to find a safe spot to pull over.”
Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) Director, said that motorists should pay special attention to stationary farm equipment on the side of the road, as there might be farmers working nearby.
“We want to remind Hoosiers to take extra precaution on the roadways this spring,” Kettler said. “Leaving a few minutes early will ensure that everyone reaches their destination safely and in a timely manner.”