ISU Extension and Outreach
ISU Extension and Outreach reliable information about agriculture, 4H programs, food and nutrition, and family sciences. ISU Extension and Outreach has an office in Muscatine.

Muscatine Living

By Charles Schwab–Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 

Farmers on tractors and drivers need to exercise safety on the roads this harvest season to ensure everyone’s well being.


 There is an increase in farm vehicle traffic on Iowa roadways during harvest. So, it is not surprising that this is the time of year when there are also more agricultural collisions on highways and county roads.


 The two most likely types of collisions with farm equipment are left turn and rear-end collisions. The left-turn collision happens when the farm vehicle is about to make a wide left turn to align with a gate or small entry road. The motor vehicle behind begins to pass without understanding the farm vehicle was preparing to make a left turn.

The rear-end collision is common because farm equipment and motor vehicles travel at different speeds. When a car traveling fifty-five miles per hour approaches a tractor traveling fifteen miles per hour, the distance gap between these two types of vehicles disappears in about five seconds, hardly enough time to react and brake.

This is a shared responsibility of both farm equipment and motor vehicle operators, according to Charles Schwab, Iowa State University professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, with extension and outreach responsibilities.

 Farm equipment operators must be sure to mark their equipment for road travel and signal their turning intentions. Motorists must take extra caution during this time of year, looking for turn signals and slowing down as soon as they see a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem.

More information about sharing the roadway is available in the ISU Extension and Outreach Publication “Safely Sharing the Road with Farm Vehicles,” available at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/5134

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