Iowa's wet spring and very dry summer have made for an interesting growing season. With harvest around the corner, motorists will soon be sharing the road with farm vehicles. The Iowa Department of Transportation is urging motorists and farm vehicle operators to exercise caution during the movement of slow-moving equipment on Iowa's roadways.
Already in 2013, there have been 79 crashes with farm equipment causing five deaths. Data for 2012 shows a total of 176 crashes involved farm equipment. Those crashes resulted in 12 fatalities, 11 major injuries, 37 minor injuries, and 36 other possible injuries.
"For too long we have all accepted that highway fatalities are inevitable," said Jeremey Vortherms, Iowa DOT state safety engineer. "But if you think about a realistic traffic fatality goal for your family, wouldn't that goal be zero? If we all work together to buckle up, eliminate distractions and drive alert, we can drastically reduce the number of fatalities on the road and work to achieve a goal of zero fatalities."
Tips for motorists
• Give your full attention to the driving task and watch for slow-moving vehicles. Do not text and drive.
• Put additional space between your vehicle and those ahead. At this time of the year, the sun can be blinding to drivers during sunrise and sunset. The added space helps you safely maneuver if there is a sudden stop, turn, or a slow-moving vehicle ahead.
• Be patient and do not assume the equipment operator can move aside to let you pass. The shoulder may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle.
• Slow down as soon as you see the triangular-shaped, red and fluorescent orange slow-moving vehicle emblem.
Tips for farm vehicle 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. Traveling partially on the shoulder may cause motorists to risk passing in a dangerous situation.
• Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over where it is safe, and let the traffic go by.
• Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train extends 3 feet beyond the tracks on both sides.