Stay safe during the harvest


Aubrey Woods

Farmers had a good head start on the harvest as evidenced by the empty fields that already have started showing up in some parts of the county.

But there are more than 660 farm operations and more than 201,200 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.

But it’s been dry giving farmers plenty of time to get their crops out of the field. That means 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 were involved in 98 crashes across the nation in 2018, including two involving fatalities in Indiana.

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.

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, recently said it is vital that all Hoosiers work together for a safe 2020 harvest season.

“As farmers begin to harvest this year’s crops, please remember to be courteous and cautious when meeting farm equipment on the roadways,” said Doug Carter, Indiana State Police superintendent. “By working together and sharing our roadways, we can ensure we all make it home safely.”

The department offers several safety tips for motorists approaching large farm equipment, which includes tractors, combines, grain carts and wagons, and large trucks hauling agriculture products:

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.

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.

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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.

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For information about harvest safety, visit anytime after Monday


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