Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said driving safety during harvest season, or anytime, is simple.
"If you see farm equipment down the road and you're driving 55 mph, they're driving 35 mph, you're going to close that gap pretty quick. It's really just a matter of paying attention," Heaton said.
According to Indiana Code 9-21-5-7, operators of vehicles being driven at a speed below the posted limit are required to move over to the right at their first opportunity if three or more vehicles are following to allow those vehicles to safely pass.
As the farmers move their equipment, motorists are reminded to exercise caution on the roadways particularly on county roads.
Remember, some farm implements are much wider than normal vehicles using roadways and motorists may need to slow down, move over and perhaps even come to a stop to allow these large pieces of machinery to pass.
With so much activity in the fields by farmers and deer hunters in the woods during the past month, deer movement increases. In addition, from mid-October and peaking early to mid-November, this time of year is mating season or "rut," which further causes deer to be on the run in rural areas.
According to the 911 dispatchers at Clay County Justice Center, reports of deer/vehicle collisions are a daily occurrence.
Chief Dispatcher Melissa Gambill told The Brazil Times eight accidents were reported during Nov. 10-13, with most of them "occurring in the early morning and evening hours."
"There are a lot of distractions for drivers. Technology like cell phones and radios, or paying attention to something other than driving can be dangerous," Heaton said. "People really need to be aware of their surroundings to drive safely."
The Indiana State Police offers tips for farmers and motorists to avoid fall road hazards.
Tips for farmers include:
* Make sure all lighting and placards are on farm equipment as required by law,
* Make certain farm equipment is visible at night when parked along the road or near a field,
* Avoid traveling on state and United States highways during rush-hour traffic, and
* Wear reflective clothing when working at night in order to be seen by motorists and other farm workers.
Tips for motorists include:
* Be patient when traveling behind farm equipment because farmers have the same rights as automobile drivers to operate their equipment on the roads,
* When approaching farm equipment from the opposite direction, pull to the right of the traveled portion of the road and allow the equipment to pass, and
* Always be cautious when approaching farm equipment parked on the side of the road. Someone may be getting into or out of the equipment or performing maintenance.