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Fatal Accident Reminds of Need for Extra Caution During Harvest


It was a very ugly scene in Tippecanoe County on the evening of Halloween. A combine and minivan collided resulting in death for several in the van. The tragedy serves as a harvest reminder that motorists and farm machinery operators alike need to be extra vigilant this time of year. But Purdue safety specialist Dr. Bill Field says that’s not where the trend is headed.

“The reality is that we’re becoming more and more urban, less and less rural,” he told HAT. “We have less of a rural mindset. Many people have become indifferent to some of the rural activities that take place. I think there is responsibility on everybody’s part, including the operator of heavy equipment as well as the motorist, but there needs to be this recognition that everyone is sharing the road. Everyone needs to be alert, and we’ve gotten so many distractions beyond just the lack of experience with this heavy equipment.”

Those distractions include conversations with others, texting, and even the new electronics in the farm implements. So all parties are capable of being distracted, but Field has observed some habits that should alarm rural America.

“I help out a little with my neighbor on some farm chores, and it amazes me how many people will attempt to track past me on the left, on the right, just because I’m going slower, and it appears in my mind as they look at me that they’re disgusted that I’m in their way. It’s that lack of sensitivity and that lack of sharing that needs to be obvious for all of us using the highway. We need to remember that farmers aren’t out there to make life difficult for me as an operator of a car or pickup truck. They’re out there because they’re moving food from field to farm to storage to processing.”

And, he says, all those using the roads need to be a part of that. It’s too early to make a 2012 harvest assessment, but Field says it appears to be a rather smooth harvest. Accidents last year went down and he is hopeful there will be a similar report for 2012.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/11/harvest-safety-on-the-roads.mp3|titles=harvest safety on the roads]

(picture courtesy of John Terhune of the Journal and Courier in Lafayette)