It's that time of year when farmers all across the Tri-State fire up their combines and head out to their fields to harvest the corn and beans they spent the spring and summer months growing. To get there, they'll have to drive those massive, lumbering pieces of farm equipment on the same roads you and I drive each day to get where we need to go. And if you're not paying attention, or get impatient, it could end badly for both you and them.

The Indiana State Police recently shared information from the National Highway Traffic Administration regarding the increase in farm traffic on area roads that said in 2019, there were three incidents involving a driver and farm equipment on the road, one of which resulted in a fatality.

I know it seems a bit unbelievable that someone wouldn't see a tractor or combine on the highway. It's not like they can pull out right in front of you. But, think about how easily distracted you can get when driving. You're messing with the radio or trying to get something to play on your phone, or maybe there's a screaming kid or two in the back seat you're trying to calm down. Any number of things can take your focus off the most important thing you should be doing when you're behind the wheel, driving. Maybe you see the tractor up ahead and misjudge how slow it's going compared to you, so you look down for just a second, or you turn to try and get the kids to be quiet. Next thing you know, you glance back at the road and that tractor that you could have sworn was hundreds of feet in front of you two seconds ago is now about 30 feet away and you're doing 60 miles an hour. It likely won't end well for you.

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The ISP is asking that over the next several weeks, that you be patient with farmers. They're just out trying to make a living like you or me, and they are fully aware of how slow their equipment moves. Most will pull over when they have the space to do so, but sometimes it may take a while to find that space.

State Police also remind you to not tailgate farm equipment as they may have to stop suddenly for any number of reasons. They also encourage you to be extra sure they are letting you pass before you attempt to go around them, especially on the left side. Unlike your vehicle, grain trucks, tractors, and combines often have to "swing out" to the right before making a left turn because their turning radius is much larger, so it's possible that it may appear they're pulling over to the right to let you pass, but they may actually be getting ready to make a left turn instead.

If you're on your way somewhere and see a large piece of farm equipment ahead of you, see if there's a way around it that doesn't involve passing it, like a side road or two you can take that would give you the opportunity to get ahead of them before returning to the main road. Just like you, farmers are just out doing their job to provide for their families and they'd like to get back home to them safely.

[Source: Indiana State Police]

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