What you’ll learn reading this article:
- Over half of Indiana is made up of farmland.
- Rural roads can offer particular dangers that city streets do not.
- Harvest season can be especially dangerous for drivers as farm equipment and machinery is operating.
Indiana is made up of almost 23 million acres of land, and there’s a reason we are known for our corn and soybeans. Of that acreage, there are 12,710,000 acres of cropland in Indiana, ranking us 11th in the United States for amount of farmland and fourth in the U.S. for percentage of farmland compared to total land with 55.4%.
With so much farmland, there are naturally more rural roads in Indiana than other states. Driving in rural areas can offer unique challenges for each season due to both weather conditions and human aspects, such as an increase in farm equipment and operations during harvest seasons or construction zones on highways rerouting traffic.
Common Rural Road Hazards
Here are some of the top hazards you may face on a rural road:
- Driving at night and in the early morning.
You should always be more mindful when driving in the dark or early morning hours due to lower visibility and a higher likelihood of fatigue but especially so when traversing rural roads. Without city lights and skyglow, maintaining your vehicle’s headlights and keeping an eye on the road in front of you and behind you becomes especially important. Additionally, fog can be common in the early morning along rural roads, creating low visibility.
- Winter driving.
Rural roads may not be cleared of snow or ice the way that city streets are, so the winter months can create additional challenges for drivers. Additionally, many Indiana rural roads feature bridges, which statistically ice faster than other roadways.
- Inclement weather.
Especially in the spring and summer months, rain, storms and tornadoes can strike rural areas. It’s important to keep your eye on the sky during these times and be aware of your surroundings as well as other drivers when visibility may be decreased due to weather conditions.
- Seasonal harvests and farm machinery.
Harvest time can increase the amount of machinery on the roads. Slow moving and usually not exceeding 25 miles per hour, these farm implements may slow traffic unexpectedly. Additionally, farm machinery can be oversized or carry wide loads and may take up more than one lane. Always be sure to share the road with farm equipment and leave adequate space between your vehicle and the machinery. If you decide to pass the equipment, be sure to check for oncoming vehicles before switching lanes.
- Construction detours.
Indiana has seen an increase in road construction in recent years, and with increased construction comes detours. Oftentimes Google Maps or GPS systems may reroute drivers to rural roads for faster travel times, resulting in increased traffic.
- Wildlife and livestock.
Many rural areas see a higher incidence of deer and wildlife in the road and crossing the road. Additionally, loose livestock such as cattle may create problems and obstacles. Always be on the lookout for animals on rural roadways.
What Do I Do If I Get in an Accident on Rural Roads?
If you are involved in an accident on rural roads, be sure to follow the standard steps after a collision. These include:
- Remaining on the scene and checking for injuries.
- Calling the police and reporting the accident and any injuries.
- Exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver.
- Taking photographs of the scene, the damage and any injuries.
- Avoiding admitting fault or apologizing for the accident.
- Calling your insurance company to alert them to the accident.
- Contacting an Indiana car accident attorney if you are injured to discuss your case and right to compensation.
Each and every accident is unique, and accidents in rural areas involving farm equipment may be especially complicated. PBAR attorneys will help you navigate the best options for you and your loved ones moving forward, whether that includes gathering evidence like medical bills and photographs of the scene or helping you to determine the amount of compensation you deserve.
Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery—Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses.
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