As the soil temperatures continue to rise, farmers are preparing to get into the fields as soon as the weather allows. Adding these vehicles to the mix on Iowa roadways will call for increasing patience on the part of motorists who will be sharing the road with slow-moving farm equipment.
In the spirit of cooperation, the Iowa Department of Transportation is urging both motorists and farm vehicle operators to exercise caution during the busy spring planting season.
Data for 2012 shows a total of 170 crashes involved farm equipment. Those crashes resulted in 12 fatalities, 11 major injuries, 35 minor injuries and 40 other possible injuries. Of the 170 crashes, 96 resulted only in property damage.
Tips for motorists
• Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles, especially during planting and harvest seasons.
• 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.