Motorists: stay alert and share the road with farm equipment this spring

Motorists: stay alert and share the road with farm equipment this spring

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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 roadways this spring.

“Indiana farmers will be working hard this spring to ensure their crops are planted safely, timely and efficiently,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Whether you live in rural, urban or suburban Indiana, remain alert on the road this spring as you may encounter large farm equipment moving between fields.”

In 2021, four occupants were involved in crashes with farm equipment in Indiana which resulted in two deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration*.

“With the onset of warmer weather, we will begin to see more and more farm machinery on our rural roads and highways,” said Doug Carter, Indiana State Police Superintendent. “Patience, courtesy, undivided attention, and understanding will help everyone get to where they need to be safely.  Let’s all do our part to ensure our farmers enjoy a safe planting season.”

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.

Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Don Lamb wants to remind motorists that farmers work hard to ensure they are being as safe as possible.

“As a farmer myself I have heard of way too many accidents involving farm equipment and motorists on rural Indiana roads,” said Lamb. “Unfortunately, crashes and deaths occur each year during this busy time. We want to encourage motorists to slow down, be alert and be patient when sharing the roads with farmers this busy spring season.”