Do You Know What to Do When Approaching Farming Equipment on the Roadways?

Now that Spring has arrived, it is important to be cognizant of farm equipment sharing the Indiana roadways. Many Indiana drivers will encounter slow-moving farming equipment on the roadways, especially on country roads. It’s important that all drivers know the rules of the road. Indiana has few laws for farming equipment being used on the roadways.

Farmers may need to bring their equipment onto the road to travel from crop to crop. This is legal; however, they need to take precautions for their vehicle operations.

According to IN Code 9-19-6-11.03 IN Code § 9-19-6-11.3 (2018) the following is required of equipment when manufactured after 2006:

  • An implementation of husbandry
  • A farm tractor
    • An implement of husbandry or a farm tractor listed in subsection (a) be equipped with:
      • (1) headlamps;
      • (2) tail lamps;
      • (3) work lamps;
      • (4) warning lamps;
      • (5) extremity lamps;
      • (6) turn indicators;
      • (7) rear reflectors;
      • (8) front and rear conspicuity material; and
      • (9) front, rear, and side retroreflective material;

that comply with the standards contained in the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) Standard S279.11 DEC01 or any subsequent standards developed by ASAE at the time the vehicle was manufactured.

When sharing the road both motor vehicle and farm equipment operators need to be mindful of making left-hand turns. Statistically, left-hand turns are the cause of a majority of accidents with large farm equipment.

Farm equipment operators can, and should, take the following measures to lessen the likelihood of an accident:

  • Place a “Slow-moving” sign on the back of the equipment- this is a requirement
  • Tow only two implements at a time
  • If three cars or more are backed up behind a slow-moving tractor, the Indiana code implies that the farmer has a duty to pull over to allow traffic to pass, but it is only required when safe to do so.
  • Have proper load securement

Who is at fault for an accident with a farm tractor?

Many drivers think that tractors and farming equipment do not have a right to be on the roadways, but that is not the case. Farming equipment can operate on a roadway, with some safety precautions as outlined above. As a motorist, you still have a duty to look out for these machines. The rules of the road will still apply and depending on how an accident occurs can determine the fault. Do not assume that because a slow-moving vehicle was on the road it is their fault for the accident. Motorists must watch for these vehicles and yield the right of way as they would any car. They should not pass them on a double yellow and should only make lane change maneuvers when legal and safe to do so.

What should I do if involved in a car accident with farming equipment?

As with any accident should you be involved in a car accident with farm equipment on the roadway you should do the following:

  • Call 911
  • Take photographs of the accident scene
  • Seek medical treatment if you sustain injuries, whether major or minor
  • Report the accident to your auto insurance
  • Do NOT give any recorded statements
  • Call an injury attorney to discuss your potential case

When sharing the roadways, be patient. Farm equipment operators have a right to move about as necessary. Passing on a double yellow line can cause harm to yourself, other motorists, and the farm equipment operator. You should also refrain from passing within 100 feet of an intersection and be mindful of the operators’ actions when passing on the left. They often swing to the right due to the machine’s size before making a left-hand turn. It is also smart to not tailgate large equipment as they may make sudden stops without warning.

Are farming equipment operators required to have a driver’s license?

Farming tractors do not require the person operating them to have a valid driver’s license. Although, it's important that the person operating the equipment be properly trained, it is possible that the person behind the wheel could be inexperienced. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep that in mind when traveling near them. Take necessary precautions, not only for you but also for their safety as well.

Although farm equipment accidents are rare, a collision with farm equipment is often very serious and all parties end up with significant injuries. Although it can be frustrating to be behind a large tractor, it is important to stay calm and be patient. Many of these tips seem simple, but many drivers are not aware of the maneuvers that farm equipment makes.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, the lawyers at Tabor Law Firm, LLP would be happy to discuss your potential case with you during a free consultation. Call our attorneys at (317) 689-0077.

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