It’s mid-October and harvest is in full swing. Not only are farmers hitting the fields, but also the roads.
“We [farmers] are in the field constantly from October 1 through November; starting with harvesting and then finishing up with tillage. We are in the road every day to get to a field one place or another,” said Charlie Edson, a Chickasaw County farmer.
Captain Don Eggleston, the Patrol Division Commander for the city of Waverly, says this isn’t an uncommon thing to see in the state of Iowa.
“With farm safety, I think it’s imperative to number one, just to expect it. We’re certainly living in a rural community and you’re gonna run across whether it’s gonna be a combine or whether it’s gonna be a tractor pulling multiple grain carts to the mill, you’re gonna run across it especially this time of year,” Captain Eggleston said.
But when both farmers and drivers are trying to get to work, it can cause problems.
“One of the things that I feel is the biggest safety issue is when somebody speeds around a farm implement or something and the tractor driver does not realize he’s even back there,” Edson said. “I would just ask all drivers to recognize that we’re both in a hurry but to take a little patience and both of us slow down prevents us from having to make a speedy run to the hospital.”
Edson advises to be cautious on the road and look for signs when you’re coming up on a farm vehicle or equipment.
“I’d like to make sure that everyone is aware on this newer equipment that they do have the capabilities for turn signals in tractors now or large farm equipment,” said Edson. “Do be looking on their flashing system, don’t just assume it’s just flashers. Look at those for direction that they could be turning and recognize that if just on flashers going on one side of the vehicle, that’s indicating that they are getting ready to turn and hopefully everybody will be able to avoid a collision that way.”
Edson also said it’s helpful for farmers when other vehicles on the road slow down.
“When you’re coming to a tractor or any vehicle on the road, when you see flashing lights and an SMV sign on the back end recognize that that is a slow moving vehicle and that you do need to slow down because you don’t know until you’re closer to the vehicle just how wide of load he’s pulling or what is behind that vehicle, exactly,” Edson said.
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation statistics, between 2004 and 2013, there were 1,947 crashes between farm equipment and vehicles.
To lower this number in the future, Captain Eggleston encouraged patience on the road.
“Take your time. It’s gonna take some time to get around them. You may be in an area geographically that’s gonna prevent you from passing or making a safe pass, so expect a little bit of a delay with the farm equipment,” Captain Eggleston said.
Farm vehicles and equipment simply cannot be avoided in Iowa. If you, as a driver, can work with the farmers on the road, then they will work with you, Edson advised.
“Well I just ask them to appreciate the farmers lack of ability to be on the road and he will do all he can do to accommodate oncoming traffic and by them slowing down and recognizing that it is an oversized vehicle is, as a farmer we appreciate that,” Edson said.