Motorists are being warned to be on the lookout for large farm vehicles as this summer’s drought has forced farmers to harvest their corn earlier than usual. Iowa Department of Transportation spokesperson Dena Gray-Fisher says there are typically 200 crashes per year involving farm equipment.
“Last year, there were seven fatalities in Iowa involving slow moving farm equipment on our roadways,” Gray-Fisher says. “This is the time of year you need to be especially alert and paying attention to all of your surroundings.”
A report from the U.S.D.A. on Monday indicated around 10% of the Iowa corn crop is already harvested. That’s well ahead of last year when only one-percent of the corn crop was harvested at this stage of the season. Many crashes between cars and combines or other farm equipment occur when motorists fail to wait for the equipment operator to move aside to create a safe passing lane.
While motorists need to be patient, Gray-Fisher says the farm equipment operators should only pull over where it safe to let traffic pass. “Make your intentions clearly known to the vehicles around you,” Gray-Fisher said. “Do not signal them to go around…just pull over where it is safe – usually a driveway or a side road – and let that traffic around you and then resume operations.”
On many rural roads, the farm equipment can’t move aside to let others pass because the shoulder may not provide enough support to support such heavy equipment. This is also the time of year when the sun can be blinding to drivers during sunrise and sunset.
Gray-Fisher encourages motorists to add space between their vehicle and the farm machinery in order to safely maneuver if there is a sudden stop or turn by the operator of the slow moving equipment.