Planting season here; stay alert on rural roads
Spring is here, and farmers are beginning to plant their crops across the state’s 15 million acres of farmland. The Indiana State Dept. of Agriculture and several state agencies are reminding Hoosier motorists to be alert, be courteous and be patient when they encounter farm equipment on Indiana’s rural roads.
“Planting season is a crucial time for our Hoosier farmers; they have a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture. “I want to encourage all motorists to stay alert and be cautious while driving on rural roads this spring and to make room for large farm equipment so our roads remain safe for everyone.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018 farm equipment vehicles were involved in 98 crashes across the U.S., with two farm equipment vehicles being involved in fatal crashes in Indiana.
Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Dept. of Agriculture, encourages motorists to share the road with farmers.
“Each year, fatal accidents unfortunately occur on Indiana’s roads as large farm equipment moves from field to field,” Kettler said. “I want to remind all Hoosiers that farm equipment typically travels around 25 miles per hour or less, so please remain alert, slow down and share the road when approaching farm machinery.”
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 road, 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 motorists pass, but it may take time for them to get to a safe place to do so.
• Be careful when passing. Do not pass 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 slow-moving farm equipment on the left without ensuring that the farmer driving is not planning a left turn. It may appear that the driver is pulling over to allow a pass when the farmer 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 a destination, be aware of alternate routes and avoid distractions.
“Springtime in Indiana means crisp cool mornings and farm machinery of all sizes operating on and crossing county and state roads as they move from field to field,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. “For the safety of both motorists and farmers, we ask for everyone to be attentive, patient and cautious when driving in rural Indiana during the active planting season.”
For a list of safety tips, visit isda.in.gov.