Keep Iowa’s roads safe during planting

Drivers must share the road with big farm machines

We are quickly approaching one of those times of the year when big, slow-moving farm vehicles rumble out onto roadways dominated by faster-paced traffic. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who lives in farm country. Even so, all of us should pay special heed to safety considerations as we share the roads with agricultural vehicles heading to the fields.

Iowa has been doing a good job of keeping accidents involving farm vehicles to a minimum. According to data from the Iowa Department of Transportation, fatalities and major injuries resulting from such accidents have been on the decline in recent years. That’s encouraging news.

Keeping that favorable trend headed in the right direction is an important goal as this year’s planting gets underway.

The Iowa DOT has the following advice for motorists:

• Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles.

• Be patient. Don’t assume the farmer 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.

Those are sensible suggestions that everyone should follow.

It’s also important for people operating farm vehicles to take responsibility for their role in preventing accidents. The DOT has the following tips for them:

• Make your intentions known when 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 half on the shoulder may cause motorists to risk passing in a dangerous situation.

• Don’t encourage or signal motorists to pass. Pull over where it is safe and let traffic go by.

If farm vehicle operators and the rest of us adhere carefully to these admonitions, many tragedies can be averted. The key is for everyone to make safety a priority.


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