As spring arrives and temperatures rise, farmers across Indiana will begin to plant the state’s 15 million acres of crops. 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.
“Farming season can be both a joyful and anxious time as farmers begin to plant their crops,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Farmers on tractors and heavy equipment use the same roads we do, let’s save them some unneeded anxiety and be cautious and alert while out on the road.”
According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, farm vehicles other than trucks were involved in 98 crashes across the U.S., with two of those accidents occurring in Indiana.
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler says farmers want to move their equipment as quickly and safely as possible.
“Normally people don’t think of roadway accidents when they think of one of the dangers of farming,” said Kettler. “But, each year lives are lost due to accidents on our rural roads and highways. That is why we are encouraging motorists and farmers to be cautious this spring. Please be alert, slow down and share the road.”
While the term “farm equipment” encompasses a wide range of vehicles, the most common types motorists will encounter during planting season include sprayers, tractors pulling planters or tillage equipment and large trucks hauling agricultural products. These vehicles are wide, sometimes taking up most of the roadway, and often travel at speeds no greater than 25 mph.
The following list includes several safety tips for motorists approaching large farm equipment:
• 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.
“Springtime in Indiana means crisp cool mornings and farm machinery of all sizes crossing county and state roads as they move from field to field,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. “It’s important for everyone’s safety – farmer and motorist – to be attentive when driving in rural Indiana during the active planting season.”