It’s harvest season in Iowa! And you know what that means – tractor traffic. We all understand and respect the needs of local agricultural producers. There’s no doubt that farmers are integral to our economy and to thank for the delicious meals on our tables. Yet while we know they do their best driving large machinery on our highways, it’s also up to us to take extra care while driving around farm machinery.
Farm machinery on the road presents a unique challenge for motorists. Here are a few things to bear in mind while you’re driving around tractors, combines, balers, and other large tools of the farmers’ trade.
Driving Farm Machinery on the Highway Is Legal
When people have to slow down for a large tractor on the highway, they often wonder whether the machine’s operator is obeying the law. Interestingly, in most jurisdictions they are. While it’s not particularly convenient, as a society we have acknowledged that farmers have a pressing need to use our highways – especially during harvest season. As much as you may dislike the inconvenience, it’s important to understand that farmers are in fact following the rules when they drive tractors on highways.
There are legal requirements for drivers operating farm machinery on highways, however. When it is traveling slower than 35 mph, Iowa state law requires a piece of farm machinery to display an amber flashing light visible from the rear at all times between sunset and sunrise. The law also requires any farm machinery on the road to display a reflective device identifying it as a “slow-moving vehicle.” You may recognize that device as the orange-colored triangle with red reflective tape around its perimeter.
Slow Down for Slow-Moving Tractors
“Slow-moving” is a fair designation, as farm machinery truly is slow relative to whatever you’re probably driving. Recognizing that disparity in speed will help you act cautiously around farm vehicles. When you see farm machinery ahead, slow down early so you can accurately assess its speed. Approach with caution – do not merely speed around. Doing so may give the driver a chance to move over for you, or just present you with a safer opportunity to pass on the road ahead. Farmers are gracious when you treat their safety with the respect it is due!
The Size of Farm Machinery Obstructs Your View
The greatest need for caution comes from the size of farm machinery. While it’s usually not as big as a tractor trailer, a farm vehicle is typically large enough to obstruct your view of the road ahead. It can also be big enough to extend within your lane of travel. This makes passing considerably riskier, especially wherever the road bends.
If you do approach a tractor or other type of farm machinery with the intention of passing it, wait until you see a stretch of road ahead that provides a clear view of potential oncoming traffic. If you do not come upon a portion of road like that, and the driver does not pull aside for you, do not attempt to pass.
We at the Hoffman Agency hope everyone remains safe and accident-free on the road. But we also know accidents do happen – and if you’ll have us, you can trust us to provide assistance whenever you need it most. Whether you need car insurance or farm insurance, we will tailor the perfect policy for your unique needs. Please contact the Hoffman Agency today for our superior personal service and exceptional insurance products.