In the big city, traffic moves slowly because the roads are jam-packed with tens of thousands of cars that are all operated by people who learned how to drive by watching Vin Diesel movies.

But here in Iowa, traffic moves slowly for very different reasons. Our state is the proud home of over 80,000 farmers – most of whom rely on impressively large vehicles to do their important jobs. Furthermore, “truck, delivery and tractor driver” is the most common job in Iowa, which means semis aren’t uncommon obstructions on our roadways.

Driving in Iowa means frequent encounters with vehicles that absolutely dwarf your car. You wouldn’t like to inconvenience the professionals piloting these mechanical behemoths. You also wouldn’t like to find out what happens when a Peterbilt Model 579 collides with your car. That’s why it’s always a good time to review how to exercise safety and courtesy around slow-moving vehicles!


Respect the SMV Emblem

Iowa state law requires all slow-moving vehicles (SMVs) to display an SMV emblem whenever they are traversing public roads at speeds less than 30 mph. The emblem is an equilateral triangle of at least 13.8″ in height (±0.3″) – orange in color, with a red retroreflective border. 

The SMV emblem, which must be placed on the rear of the vehicle, warns approaching motorists of the upcoming obstruction. When you see it on a vehicle down the road, make sure to apply your brakes and proceed with greater caution. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, about one in five traffic injury events involving farm equipment are rear-end collisions!


Stay Out of Blind Spots

A large vehicle may be higher up off the ground, but that vantage point doesn’t give its operator a 360° view of their surroundings. In fact, trucks have front, rear and side no-zones – areas drivers cannot see in the reflections of their many mirrors. That is why you should not drive immediately behind or in front of semis, or occupy the areas on either side of their cabs.


Be Wary of Long Stopping Distances

Mass, and velocity. These are the two variables that determine an object’s momentum. They’re also why an 80,000-pound semi must cross a distance of several hundred yards before coming to a complete stop. Keep a semi’s limitations in mind while you’re sharing the road with one, and never do anything that could require the operator to stop quickly. They can’t!


Pass Cautiously

Would you like to pass a large vehicle? Don’t do it until you’re sure you can see its driver in the reflection of their own mirrors, as that is proof they’re able to see you as well. Once you have signaled your intent to pass, move into the left lane and proceed. Don’t linger in the driver’s left-side no-zone any longer than you have to, and take care that large vehicles typically pick up speed on a downgrade.


Anticipate Wide Turns

The longer the vehicle, the larger its turning radius – i.e. the size of the smallest circular turn it can make. When you see a semi preparing to make a turn, take care that it will require substantially more room to execute the maneuver. Resist the urge to squeeze through!


Exercise All Reasonable Caution

Be patient with large vehicle operators, and understand that you share the same objective in mind: getting wherever you’re going safely. Observe Iowa state law by using your seat belt. Avoid any distractions while you are driving, obey posted speed limits, and never operate a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.Finally, make certain you have sufficient auto insurance. It will not help to prevent an accident, but it can save you from having to pay for property damage and medical expenses following a collision. If you would like to purchase the best auto insurance for your budget and unique needs, then we welcome you to contact The Hoffman Agency today!