(LAWRENCE COUNTY) - It's harvest time in Indiana and motorists will often find themselves in traffic with large, slow-moving farm equipment.
Lawrence County Sheriff Sam Craig said sometimes motorists feel held up on their way to work or another destination and take unnecessary risks.
"Motorists should use caution," he said. "If they know they are going somewhere they need to give themselves a little extra time to get there."
Farm equipment will not just be on county roadways, but major highways too.
"Farmers need to be alert too," Craig said. "And if they a long line of traffic behind them they need to pull off at a safe location and allow that traffic to pass."
Craig said officers did not work any major accidents last year involving farm equipment and motorist.
A few rural road safety considerations:
Slow down as soon as you spot a piece of farm equipment.
In fact, if you see something ahead that is neither car nor truck, slow down- -at least until you have identified the object.
Watch for hand signals.
Just because a tractor veers right does not mean the operator is pulling over for you to pass. The sheer size of farm equipment often dictates the necessity of wide turns- - hence the veer right. If a tractor operator is signaling you to wait, trust him. He has a much higher vantage point than you.
Be aware of the triangular Slow-moving-Vehicle (SMV) sign.
Only use SMV signs on slow moving vehicles, not to mark driveways or for other non-vehicular uses. Not only are these actions illegal in many areas, they devalue the purpose of SMV signs, putting producers at risk when moving equipment.
Watch for flashing amber lights.
This type of light often marks the far right and left of farm equipment. Also watch for reflective tape marking extremities and sides of equipment.
Do not speed past farm machinery.
Even when you may pass safely and legally, the turbulence created by your vehicle may cause the machinery to sway and become unstable.
Do not pull out in front of slow moving vehicle and then slow suddenly.
A tractor pulling a grain cart does not have the maneuverability of a car. Make sure you have ample space to pass. As with any passing operation, check the rear-view mirror before returning to your travel lane.
Do not expect equipment to run partly on the road shoulders.
Driving with one set of wheels on the pavement and one set on loose-surfaced shoulders substantially increases the risk of overturn or other accident.
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