October 15, 2012

Sharing the road

Drivers urged to be cautious with motorcycles and farm equipment.

by Caitlin Huston

— With the fall season, drivers are urged to be cautious of motorcyclists and farm equipment on the road. Farm equipment and motorcycles are more likely to be on the road during the fall because of the crop harvest and the pleasant temperatures. While law enforcement has not had large issues with either vehicle, they urge drivers to be careful and aware of their surroundings while driving.

The fall season typically brings in more motorcyclists who want to get in a scenic drive before the temperatures drop, said Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor.

“They’ll be traveling through our county quite a bit,” Pryor said. Many of the motorcyclists are out on charity rides or fall tours —some of which the sheriff’s department often provides an escort, Pryor said.

Similarly, as farmers harvest crops, large vehicles like combines can be seen traveling down the road and often taking up more than one lane, Pryor said.

Pryor said the sheriff’s department has not had problems with crashes so far, but patience is key in driving for regular drivers and for those driving the farm equipment or motorcycles.

“We’ve had very few problems with motorcycles so far,” Pryor said. He added that because the farm equipment can legally be driven on the road, drivers need to respect the slow speeds that they’re traveling.

At the Indiana State Police Peru post, Sgt. Tony Slocum said they had a motorcycle fatality Oct. 4 in Fulton County when a car pulled into an intersection without looking. Being extra cautious and aware of surroundings is key in preventing these wrecks, Slocum said.

“People are asked to take a second look before pulling out into the intersection,” Slocum said.

Pryor also urged motorcyclists to reduce speed within town and to wear helmets. “That’s always a safety feature I encourage my riders to use,” Pryor said.

The sheriff’s department also works to control motorcyclists and cars in terms of driving offenses, Pryor said.

“That’s something that we have to control with our traffic enforcement,” Pryor said.

Though they had the Fulton fatality, Slocum said his post usually does not see many motorcycle incidents. However, he said they have also noticed steady farm traffic on rural roads both during the day and at night.

“Farmers are out earlier this year,” Slocum said. “They are working later into the night as well.”

Slocum urged farmers to put the Slow Moving triangles on the back of the trailers and have follow vehicles driving behind them at night. He added that drivers should use patience when passing farm machinery, as the tractors or combines often have to pull to the center of the road to avoid mailboxes and other obstacles on the side of the road.

Slocum also said the farm equipment on the roadways is something residents have to deal with every year. “It’s just a hazard of living in rural areas,” Slocum said.