It's harvest season in many parts of the U.S. With about 94,000 farmers in the state, harvest time impacts Indiana traffic. In the Fort Wayne area, gathering and transporting produce often requires farm vehicles to use public roadways, which can increase the risk of serious car accidents.
Slow-moving farm vehicles take to the roads each fall
Last year, there were 284 Indiana car accidents involving farm equipment such as tractors, combines, grain carts, grain wagons, and large trucks hauling agricultural products. Statewide, the accidents killed 7 and injured 84 people, according to local media.
Understanding how to safely share the road with farm equipment can help reduce the opportunities for car accidents. Here's what Indiana drivers and farmers need to know about safely sharing the road during harvest season.
Farm equipment vs. motor vehicle accidents
With the increased blending of urban and rural communities, car accidents involving farm equipment are happening in more places. Recently, Indiana counties reporting the most farm equipment motor vehicle accidents include Adams, Elkhart, and Kosciusko. In this type of accident, common crash factors include:
- Unskilled farm equipment operators
- Faulty or defective farm equipment
- Improper transportation techniques
- Loose cargo
- Failure to yield
- Lack of signaling
- Extra riders
Types of accidents involving farm equipment
Farm equipment operators are required to follow the same traffic rules as other vehicles. That means farm vehicles must stop at stop signs and traffic signals, as well as obey signaling directions. However, due to the nature of the wide, slow-moving vehicles, allowances are made.
In Indiana, it is legal for farm vehicles to occupy two lanes. When farm equipment is blocking three or more vehicles from passing on the left, the farm vehicle operator is required to pull to the right to allow the vehicles to pass. Unfortunately, not every farmer follows the rules. Common types of harvest season farm equipment accidents include:
- Rear-end accidents. Although large, improperly marked farm equipment can be difficult to spot in time to avoid a crash. Rear-end accidents, in which a vehicle strikes the back end of a tractor or other farm vehicle, are the most common type of fatal Indiana farm equipment accidents.
- Left-turn collisions. If a farmer doesn't signal properly, a left turn can look a lot like a tractor pulling to the side of the road to let other vehicles pass. When turns are miscommunicated, there is a higher risk of an accident.
- Passing crashes. Even when drivers are safe in their approach to passing farm equipment, the driver in the opposite traveling lane may not be. Passing is involved in many farm equipment car accidents. Drivers should never attempt to pass farm equipment in a "no-passing" zone.
- Intersection accidents. Some farm equipment operators think they always have the right of way. When farm equipment operators assume they have the right of way at an intersection, serious and fatal collisions can occur - especially at dusk and nighttime when visibility is low.
Seeking compensation for damages after an accident
With hundreds of farms in the Fort Wayne area, farm equipment-involved traffic accidents happen every fall. These can be complicated cases, but Boughter Sinak, LLC is here to help.
Our car accident lawyers have extensive experience handling complex cases and fighting for the compensation our clients deserve. If you or a loved one was injured in a traffic accident involving farm equipment, contact us to review your potential legal options. A member of our team is always available to hear from you. Schedule a free case evaluation today.