Planting Season: Keeping Yourself AND Farmers Safe on Roads
It’s that time again throughout the Midwest, and really any agricultural hub. As spring planting season begins, myself, and the Iowa Department of Transportation, is urging motorists and farm vehicle operators to exercise caution during the on-road operation of slow-moving equipment in Iowa. In case you haven’t notice, a 5-ton tractor and planter combo do NOT travel 65 miles per hour; but many farmers need to use those road ways to move between home and fields.
Data from an Iowa DOT study in 2009 showed a total of 215 crashes involving farm equipment. Those crashes resulted in: 6 fatalities, 14 major injuries, 54 minor injuries, and 44 people reported to have possible injuries. There were also 126 crashes that resulted in only property damage. These figures are now 10 years outdated. In addition, now even more farm vehicles are traveling further distances to farm extensive properties.
Several tips for both motorists and slow-moving machinery operators are as follows.
For common everyday motorists. Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles, especially during planting and harvest seasons. Be patient; don’t assume the equipment operator can move aside to let you pass. The shoulder may be unable to support a heavy farm vehicle. Slow down; as soon as you see the triangular-shaped, red and fluorescent orange slow-moving vehicle emblem. Avoid distractions while driving; texting and operating other electronics while driving is always dangerous.
Tips for farm vehicle and slow machinery operators. Make your intentions known when you are turning by using signal lights or the appropriate hand signal in advance of the turn. Drive slow-moving vehicles in the right-hand lane as close to the edge of the roadway as safely possible; using the shoulder on when it is safe to do so. Note that traveling partially on the shoulder may cause motorists to risk passing you in a dangerous situation. In these cases, avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over where it is safe, and let the traffic go by when possible.
Below is a compilation of crash tests involving slow moving machinery and common road vehicles.