Planting season is quickly approaching for Indiana’s 94,000 farmers. With the warm weather and sunshine, Hoosier motorists will also see more large slow-moving farm equipment traveling Indiana’s rural roads and highways. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana State Police and Hoosier Ag Today want to encourage motorists to slow down, be alert and be patient on rural roadways this spring.
“Our farmers have an enormous job to do, feeding us and the rest of the world,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture. “And with that job comes a tremendous responsibility; let’s help our farmers out where we can. When you see large farm equipment traveling our Hoosier roadways slow down and give them space so everyone can get where they are going safely.”
In Indiana, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2020 three vehicles were involved in crashes with farm equipment, which resulted in two deaths.
“During the spring and fall seasons Indiana sees a drastic increase of large farm equipment on our rural roads and highways,” said Doug Carter, Indiana State Police Superintendent. “In our strong agricultural state, it is critical that Hoosier motorists know the steps to take when approaching farm equipment on the roadways to ensure we all make it home safely to our families.”
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 patient. Farm equipment is wide, sometimes taking up most of the road.
- 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.
“Moving farm equipment on the roadways is one of the most dangerous parts of my job. It takes time to find a safe space for me to pull over and allow other motorists to pass safely. Please be considerate when you drive behind farm equipment, drivers and I have the same goal in mind each time we take a trip on Hoosier roads- to get our work done and make it home safely to our loved ones,” said Brent Bible, Tippecanoe Co. farmer.
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler wants to remind motorists farmers work hard to ensure they are being as safe as possible.
“Hoosier farmers are trying to get to their fields safely and quickly, just like our Hoosier motorists are trying to get to work safely and quickly,” said Kettler. “I want to encourage motorists to be aware during this spring season and know that encountering farm equipment is likely and to slow down when approaching.”