The summer-like weather of late has given farmers a good head start on the harvest as evidenced by the many empty fields that already have started showing up in some parts of the county.
But there are more than 700 farm operations and more than 180,000 acres of farmland in the county, so it’s a good bet many farmers have yet to finish shelling their corn or picking their soybeans.
That’s good news because the more time they have to get their crops out of the field, the less crunch farmers are feeling to get things done.
But it’s still important that motorists, especially those living in rural areas of the county, take their time and drive slowly when it comes to working their way around slow-moving farm equipment.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, farm equipment vehicles other than trucks were involved in 87 fatal crashes across the nation in 2015.
This is a busy time of year for farmers as they harvest crops and haul grain but they also need to exercise some caution, especially when it comes to pulling out onto roads or overextending themselves and getting in a big hurry.
“This harvest season, our goal is to make sure that every Hoosier reaches their destination safely and with plenty of time to spare,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who is director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture.
The department offers several safety tips for motorists approaching large farm equipment:
•Be alert. The red triangle on the back of an implement, farm machinery or other vehicle indicates a slow-moving vehicle (under 25 mph).
•Be patient. It only takes five seconds for a motorist driving 55 mph to close a gap the length of a football field when approaching a tractor moving at 15 mph. Avoid tailgating, as some farm equipment might have to make sudden stops along the road.
•Share the Road. Farm equipment is wide, sometimes taking up most of the roadway, so be careful and slow down when passing.
•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.
•Do not pass if you are in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevation structure or tunnel.
“Motorists, farmers, and transportation workers all share the road and we all share a common goal — arrive home safely every day,” said Joe McGuinness, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. “Hoosiers should be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads now through November.”
We all need to be focused on safety and paying attention to what we are doing, whether it’s driving to work or moving a combine from one field to another.
We all need to be focused on safety and paying attention to what we are going, whether it’s driving to work or moving a combine from one field to another.
For information about harvest safety, visit in.gov/isda/3433.htm
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