WOODBURN, Ind. (WFFT) — As the leaves turn this fall, so does the size of the tires on Indiana roads.
Harvest season means large tractors and other farm equipment sharing the pavement and the equipment does not move fast.
"Our top speed is anywhere between 15 and maybe 25 miles an hour if we’re on an open road with no mailboxes or telephone poles and no obstructions," Allen County Farm Bureau Member Roger Hadley said. "If they’re driving 55, 60, or 65 [mph] like a lot of people going a little over the speed limit, they come up on us like we’re sitting still."
Hadley says the combination of fast cars and slow tractors leads to crashes every year.
"Probably half a dozen a year in the state of Indiana and a lot of them end up with fatalities," Hadley said.
In 2019 the National Highway Traffic Administration says farm equipment was involved in three crashes, one of which was deadly.
Indiana State Police ask drivers to be patient, noting that farmers will pull over to let you pass, but it may take some time.
If you do pass, avoid no passing zones and make sure the farmer isn’t about to turn left.
"People need to watch and see what the sequence is of those blinkers, if all blinkers are going at once, that's a warning," Hadley said. " If only one side is going and the other side is staying steady, just like on a car, they need to stay back and pay attention."
Signals are not the only sign for drivers.
"We’ve got flashers that we run, you’ll see flashers on the combine, you’ll see a slow-moving vehicle sign on the combine which is supposed to be a given size and that reflects as long as we keep it clean," Hadley said.
Hadley says the farmers must also be aware.
"Sometimes the combine driver or tractor driver looks both ways and doesn’t see no one either as they cross the road in a big hurry, but typically it's the driver of the car or pick up truck or motorcycle that can't wait, he said. "Farmers have to be just as careful."
In general, Hadley says it’s always to be careful around farm equipment whether it's moving or not.
"Farm accidents are more prevalent than any others," he said. "Whether it happens on the road, whether it happens in a field, little kids, we got to be careful on all those things, don’t get around the equipment."