Harvest season is nearly upon us. It’s not uncommon this time of year to find yourself sharing the road with farm machinery, even in a city like Indianapolis. Although you probably won’t get stuck behind a tractor downtown in Monument Circle, you might elsewhere in Marion County, where Indianapolis begins to look like the rest of Indiana again with narrow country lanes and cornfields.
Here are our top tips for how to share the road with farm machinery:
1. Be Patient
Farm machinery, as you may have noticed, moves much more slowly than other vehicles on the road. Don’t tailgate or honk your horn angrily. Unfortunately, nothing you do can make the machinery move more quickly. Slow down and settle in for a leisurely pace, or find an alternative route.
2. Give the Machinery Space
Some pieces of farm machinery aren’t outfitted with even the basic safety features we expect on vehicles, such as turn signals. Because of this, it can be hard to predict what the driver of the machinery will do next. Be sure to give the farm machinery lots of space so you have enough time to react to any sudden turns or stops. Watch out for hand signals that may indicate a turn or stop.
Farm machinery is also typically much larger than the average vehicle, likely blocking your view of what’s ahead of it. Giving the machinery space will also allow you to react to what’s in front of it.
For example, if you stick too closely to the farm machinery, you may not notice that it has approached an intersection, and you may forget to stop and instead attempt to follow the machinery through the intersection, increasing your risk of an accident.
3. Do Not Pass Unless You Are Absolutely Certain It Is Safe to Do So
When you’re stuck behind a tractor, it can be tempting to honk your horn, hit the gas, and speed past the tractor as quickly as possible. But on narrow country roads, where you would likely need to enter the lane of oncoming traffic in order to pass, it’s important to be absolutely sure that you have enough time and space to pass safely.
Even if the dotted lines on the road tell you it’s okay to pass, take extra precautions when passing farm machinery. Check to make sure no oncoming traffic is approaching. Watch the farm machinery ahead of you closely, and try to pass when it is least likely to deviate from its current route. Farm machinery may be headed for a field, not another road, so it can sometimes take turns unexpectedly.
Farm machinery may also take up more than half of the road. Before you attempt to pass, make sure you can actually fit in what remains of the adjacent lane. If you cannot, stay behind the machinery or find an alternative route.
What Is Required of Farmers?
While we do our best to share the road with farmers and their machinery, it’s also important for farmers to show other drivers a similar courtesy.
In Indiana, farmers are required by law to have a slow moving vehicle sign on the back of their machinery if it moves more slowly than 25 miles per hour. All of their lights must be working correctly and be easy for other drivers to see.
There is also a limit to how much farm machinery can disturb the natural pace of traffic. If three or more vehicles are behind the farm machinery and cannot pass safely on the left, the driver is required to pull off to the right to allow cars to pass.
Help from an Indiana Accident Attorney
In Indiana, you never know what you’ll encounter on the road. It’s important for everyone to be alert and to operate their vehicles safely when farm machinery leaves the fields and takes to the road.
But no matter how many precautions you take, accidents can still happen. If you’ve been injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free case review.