November 29, 2021

Motorists urged to remain alert to slow-moving equipment during harvest season

INDIANAPOLIS — Harvest season is here and for some that means visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards, but state leaders want to remind motorists that harvest season also means farmers will begin harvesting this year’s corn and soybean crops.

That means more slow-moving agricultural equipment will be traveling on Indiana’s rural roads and highways. Officials want to remind everyone to stay alert and be courteous to ensure all get home safely.

“Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year, and I know for many others it’s their favorite, too. While traveling along our rural roads, I often come across tractors, grain wagons and combines traveling between fields to harvest their crops,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “I want to encourage all motorists to slow down, be patient and be on high alert for agricultural equipment on our roads this harvest season.”

In 2019 in Indiana, farm equipment vehicles, other than trucks, were involved in three accidents, with one fatality, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

“Harvest season is a busy time for both farmers and motorists, I want to remind everyone to slow down and be courteous on our rural roads and highways,” said Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “Slow-moving farm equipment typically travels at 25 miles per hour or less, so be sure to exercise caution when approaching.”

Farm equipment during harvest season could include tractors, combines, grain carts, grain wagons 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 a slow-moving vehicle on the left without ensuring that the vehicle is not planning a left turn. It may appear that the driver is pulling over for you to pass when it 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.

“Despite encouraging motorists and farmers alike to take extra precaution on roadways during harvest season, crashes still occur every year,” said Doug Carter, Indiana State Police superintendent. “One death is one too many. I want to remind everyone to remain alert and exercise caution as you travel on Indiana’s rural roads this fall.”