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Despite planting season delays putting farmers behind schedule, harvest season is getting underway across much of the state. That means more slow-moving farm equipment will be on Indiana roads.
Over the next couple of months, motorists are encouraged to exercise caution and patience, as they share the road with these large vehicles.
“It’s always the same battle for us every year,” said Zach Cain of Cain’s Homelike Farms, which has installed cameras on machinery to detect vehicles following behind.
According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, farm vehicles were involved in 73 fatal crashes across the U.S., with seven of those incidents occurring in Indiana.
By law, farm equipment must have the nationally designated slow-moving vehicle sign — a red triangle-shaped reflector — to warn oncoming drivers that their equipment is on the road. These vehicles often travel at speeds no higher than 25 mph, and the most common types Hoosiers will encounter are combines and tractors pulling grain carts.
Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director, wants motorists to take extra precaution this year, as planting delays could extend the duration of the 2019 harvest season.
“Most years, farmers are hoping to have their crops harvested by Thanksgiving, but this has been an unprecedented year,” Kettler said. “Depending on the weather, we could see some working in their fields mid- to late December even. It’s important to plan accordingly.”
During harvest season, motorists are encouraged to leave 10 minutes early and to be aware of alternate routes. It’s important to watch for wide vehicles, especially when approaching hills and curves in the road.
When attempting to pass farm equipment, always look for oncoming traffic, and make sure the vehicle is actually pulling over and not making a left turn. Farmers will pull over for motorists when they are able to, but it may take them some time to find a safe place to do so.
“We just ask people to be patient with us, and we’ll try to get out of the way as soon as we can,” Cain said.
At all times, follow the rules of the road: don’t text and drive, don’t tailgate farm vehicles and pass only in designated passing zones.
“When you see farmers out working and moving from field to field, please be patient as they work to harvest their crops which are needed to help feed our communities and the world,” said Doug Carter, Indiana State Police Superintendent. “Let’s all work together to help ensure everyone’s safety on our roadways.”
The following organizations will be working together to share these important safety tips during harvest season: Hoosier Ag Today, Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana State Police.
For a full list of safety tips, visit isda.in.gov.