Harvest season has arrived and that means more large, slow moving farm vehicles will be traveling on county roads. Scott Falb, with the Department of Transportation, says there were too many crashes involving farm equipment and other vehicles in Iowa in 2007.
He says there were 196 such crashes resulting in five fatalities and 78 major injuries. The severity of the collisions is often compounded by the fact that the vehicles hitting the farm machinery are traveling at a much higher rate of speed. Iowa State Patrol Trooper Doug Cutts the crashes usually occur because a motorist simply isn’t paying attention to the road.
"We really have a major problem with distracted drivers because of cell phones, DVDs, text messaging and (Global Positioning Systems)…everybody’s doing everything but looking out the windshield," Cutts said. Carol Miller, with the Iowa Farm Bureau, is encouraging motorists to be particularly cautious as they approach curves and hills. She says many farmers will be traveling longer distances between fields this fall – adding to the hazardous situation.
"This year, Iowa’s had a tremendous amount of flooding in certain areas, some roads are in poor shape and bridges are out…farmers are having to go further to get to the fields," Miller said. Motorists are asked to stay at least 50 feet behind equipment with a slow-moving vehicle emblem and pay special attention to the SMV’s turn signals. Miller says operators of the farm equipment should avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass and pull over where it’s safe to let the traffic through.