Word from farmers in the field is that even though much of the modern equipment, including combines is equipped with turn signals to signal left or right turns off the roadways into a field or barn drive, rural motorists apparently aren't paying attention and looking for turn signals. The result is more accidents and close calls that should be necessary, even though farm equipment is moving on the road.
One farmer asked us to advise everyone to use turn signals, and to remind others who might be driving to use them as well. But he also cautions that you can't assume drivers see the signals. He fears too many inexperienced drivers on rural roads don't know equipment has turn signals. Either they don't see them, ignore them, or get them confused with flashing caution lights meant to designate that the equipment is wide and slow-moving on the road.
The biggest problem appears to be when a farm tractor or combine prepares to make a left turn across the oncoming lane, even on a narrow rural roadway. A car or pickup behind still may not understand the farmer is preparing to turn left, even though he has slowed down and ahs a turn signal on. It continues to be one fo the more dangerous moves that you will likely make on the roadway.
From the farmer standpoint, it requires extra caution and attention to mirrors when you are making a left turn. If someone is following you or leading you as an escort vehicle, make sure they are aware of the problem as well.
Tractor accidents continue to account for about half of all farm injuries and fatalities. The biggest single cause is still tractor rollovers, which happen in the field, not on the road. They still happen most often on older tractors that do not have ROPS, and when the operator is at or near, or past, retirement age. Data collected by the Purdue University Farm Safety staff verifies these conclusions.
Still, tractor or combine and car or truck collisions on roadways appears to be a growing problem. Several counties, including, Johnson, Greene and Shelby, have erected large billboards for spring and fall on major highways reminding motorists that slow-moving farm equipment will be on the roadways. Local Farm Bureaus often play a significant role in funding these billboards. And while it's a helpful reminder, it still doesn't guarantee that someone coming up behind you would anticipate you might make a left turn. Their main goal in their mind is to get past a s slow-moving obstacle in their path and get on to wherever they're going.
Be careful out there!