Safe Driving Tips for Spring Planting Season
Ahhh… springtime. The sun is shining. The temperatures are warming up. Flowers are starting to bloom. Grass is turning green. And thousands of grain farmers across the Midwest are heading into the fields to plant millions of acres of crops.
Did you know that more than 21 million acres of soybeans and 20 million acres of corn were planted across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in 2020? That’s A LOT of seed, equipment, and workers to get safely transported from one farm to the next, one field to the next.
It’s important that all drivers play a role in keeping farmers and their employees safe - giving them plenty of space on the road.
What should you do when you encounter large farm vehicles and equipment on the road?
- Slow down and exercise patience and caution as most farm equipment goes no faster than 25 miles an hour.
- Do not try to pass slow moving farm equipment until it is safe to do so. Most equipment is wide and takes up much of the road.
- Be sure to leave enough space behind the farmer so they can see you in their rearview mirror. At least three seconds of space is recommended. Once they know you’re there, most equipment operators will pull over and motion you to pass once they find enough space to safely do so.
- Be on the lookout for a safety vehicle following large equipment as well.
- Keep your eyes off your cellphone and focused on the road ahead, looking for additional lights, reflective tape, and slow-moving vehicle reflectors.
What’s a slow-moving vehicle reflector? It’s a reflective sign in the shape of an orange triangle bordered by red. It serves as a warning to drivers that the vehicle is traveling at 25 mph speeds or less.
The busiest times on the road are around dawn and dusk, so drivers should exercise additional caution when heading to and from work, and don’t forget to turn your lights on.
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture recommends several additional safety tips for drivers:
- Allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
- Be aware of alternate routes and avoid distractions.
- Do not pass within 100 feet of an intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevation structure, or tunnel.
- Do not tailgate farm vehicles as they might have to make sudden stops.
- 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.
By working together and being safe on the roads, we can have a safe and successful spring planting season.
SOURCES: Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, FFA