The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has teamed with Hoosier Ag Today and other state agencies to reach out to motorists once again as the 2021 corn and soybean planting season ramps up. The goal is to remind all who use rural roads, farmers and motorists, to be on the look out for each other.
ISDA director Bruce Kettler hosts the YouTube video. He says it’s worth the outreach even if only one minor mishap is avoided.
“It’s real easy for all of us in the springtime to get really busy, especially as farmers have a lot of work to do,” Kettler explained. “There’s a lot of pressure on them to make sure they’re getting their crop in. Then for those of us on the road, and because of the seasonality of the business, sometimes we’re not used to seeing machines out on the road, especially after a winter like this when we just typically don’t. So, I think it really is important for us all to take time, slow down, and just pay attention and look ahead when we’re on the roads.”
While filming on an Indiana farm, the operator told HAT getting his equipment on the road and safely moved from one field to another, is the hardest part of his job.
“I was surprised to hear that,” Kettler said, “but I guess when you think about how they have to move their machinery and the various types of roads and situations that they get into, with maybe sometimes poor visibility it makes sense. Again, that’s why we want to make sure everybody takes their time and is concentrating and looking ahead. And avoid any of the distractions that are easy to have.”
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.
“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.”
Kettler added, “Each year, fatal accidents unfortunately occur on Indiana’s roads as large farm equipment moves from field to field. 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 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.
“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.”
Working with ISDA and Hoosier Ag Today to get the message out, are Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana State Police.