Planting season is underway and that means motorists need to pay extra attention. Farm equipment can be very large and can move slowly on county roads and highways. That calls for patience and safe driving practices.

“Tractors, planters and other equipment is large, moves slowly and can be dangerous to pass,” warns Sheriff Brent Miller. “This time of year means motorists need to be extra vigilant when driving.”

The website Hungry for Truth offers five safety tips all drivers should follow:

  1. Keep an eye out. Operators of farm machinery cannot always see motorists. That means drivers need to pay close attention, especially when driving by fields being planted because equipment could unexpectedly enter the road from a field.
  2. Slow down. Most farm equipment travels well below the speed limit, often 25 mph or less. Drivers should slow down and stay a safe distance behind any equipment. Remember, the heavier the equipment, the longer it will take the operator to slow down. They cannot react quickly.
  3. Stay a safe distance away. This creates greater visibility and will allow the operator to make wide turns. Be aware that farm machinery may appear to be turning in a different direction than they really are.
  4. Use caution when passing. We’re all busy and in a hurry to reach our destination. That makes passing farm equipment an attractive option. Use extreme caution when passing, ensuring the road is wide enough and that there is no oncoming traffic.
  5. Be aware of surroundings. Don’t become distracted by farm equipment and miss mailboxes, bridges, animals in the road or other obstacles when driving.

“Please use common sense, slow down and be patient for the next several weeks,” urges Sheriff Miller. “Living in a community in which agriculture plays such a key role is a blessing and it requires us all to pay extra attention this time of year.”

Farmers can also take steps to help keep everyone safe. This includes having all lighting and warning signs in place as required by law and avoiding travel during early morning and evening hours. Indiana law also requires operators of slow-moving vehicles to pull to the right when they’re able if three or more vehicles are behind them, to allow the drivers to safely pass.