Motorists are being reminded that another fall harvest is underway and farmers are taking to the roads in combines and other large machinery. Scott Falb with the Iowa Department of Transportation says 31 people have been killed over the last five years in Iowa in crashes involving farm equipment and vehicles. Last year alone, there were 208 crashes involving farm equipment.

“That’s serious enough that people need to really watch out for these vehicles and make sure they’re ready to deal with the slower speeds and the larger sizes,” Falb said. Many of the newer combines are equipped with bigger mirrors and more lights. Despite that increased visibility, Falb says crashes are still happening.

“We always seem to have motorists who try to pass farm vehicles just as the farm vehicles are making left turns into driveways or into field driveways,” Falb said. Motorists are encouraged to slow down, be patient and not assume the farm vehicle can move aside to let others pass. Farm vehicle operators are told to use turn signals and avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass.

Falb says other motorists may not recognize or misinterpret the signal or wait too long to act on it. “In any of those circumstances, things can happen that may make it not a safe time to pass,” Falb said. Farm vehicle operators are also encouraged to mount slow-moving vehicle emblems on their machines and clean muddy or dusty lights and mirrors.