Slow down on the roads this harvest season

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Indiana is home to more than 57,000 farms, and every year from October to November, Hoosiers farmers are hard at work harvesting their crops. With these farms covering 64 percent of the state’s total land area, there is a good chance that you will see farm equipment on roadways in our community. This harvest season, I want to remind all motorists of some tips to keep you, your family and fellow travelers safe.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, farm equipment vehicles were involved in 87 fatal crashes across the U.S. in 2015. With the Census Bureau determining that more than half of all traffic fatalities nationwide occurred in rural areas of the country, it’s especially important for those in our community to stay alert and aware of our surroundings to help prevent accidents and save lives.

Remember to be patient while sharing the road with farm machinery. Any vehicle that travels at a rate of 25 mph or less should have the nationally designated slow-moving vehicle sign. This sign is an orange triangle with a red reflective border, and serves as a warning to oncoming drivers. When a car moving at 55 mph, approaches a tractor traveling at 15 mph, it only takes 5 seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.

Farm equipment is large, making it difficult for both the operator and oncoming drivers to see around each other. Do not assume that the farmer can see you. Farmers try to be considerate of fellow drivers and regularly check to see if there is traffic behind them, but they cannot stop to move over every time they see a car. It also may take some time for the driver to get to a place where it is safe to pull over to let you pass. They are required to pull off to the right to allow people to pass when three or more vehicles are blocked from passing on the left, but must do so safely.

If you notice that a farm vehicle has moved to the right side of the road, wait to pass until you are sure the driver is not trying to make a turn. Due to the large size, farm equipment makes wide left turns. Be sure to watch for the driver’s hand signals. Do not attempt to pass a vehicle if you are in a “No Pass Zone,” at an intersection, railroad crossing, bridge or tunnel.

For more tips on how to stay safe on the roads this harvest season, visit www.in.gov/isda.

While some tips may seem obvious, they can be easy to forget in the moment. However, keeping these precautions in mind can help get everyone on the roads safely to their destinations.

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