Iowa Department of Transportation
 


News Release

Oct. 2, 2006

For more information, contact:
Tom Welch
tom.welch@dot.iowa.gov
515-239-1267

Use caution on Iowa roadways during harvest season

AMES, Iowa The changing temperatures are only one indication fall is on the way and the harvest is set to begin. With harvest season comes increased traffic from farm vehicles on roadways. Prior to harvest, dangers also lurk on rural corners where a motorist's line of sight may be obstructed by tall corn or other vegetation.

Data for 2005 shows five fatal crashes with farm equipment killed five people in Iowa . Of those fatalities, one was a driver or passenger in the other vehicle and four were drivers or passengers in the farm vehicle. In total, there were 189 crashes involving farm equipment in 2005 that led to 45 minor injuries, 14 major injuries, and five fatalities. Below are the statistics for 2002, 2003, 2004, and preliminary data for 2005. The 2005 numbers are subject to change until law enforcement investigations are finalized.

Table 1. Crashes by Severity Involving Farm Equipment/Vehicles, 2002 to 2005

Year

Fatal

Major Injury

Minor Injury

Non-injury crashes

Total

2002

4

13

33

173

233

2003

5

9

24

146

184

2004

11

14

25

151

201

2005

5

11

32

146

189

Total

25

47

114

611

797

Table 2. Injuries by Severity for Crashes Involving Farm Equipment/Vehicles,
2002 to 2005

Year

Fatalities

Major Injuries

Minor Injuries

Total

2002

4

16

44

64

2003

5

9

29

43

2004

12

19

33

64

2005

5

14

45

64

Total

26

58

151

235

The most common time of the day for collisions was between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. That time coincides with the period when commuter traffic is coming home from work and farm operators are likely returning from their fields.

Studies also show that left-turn, rear-end and passing collisions are the three most common types of farm vehicle crashes. A left-turn collision occurs most often when a farm vehicle is about to make a left turn and a motorist behind that vehicle decides to pass. A rear-end collision happens when a slow-moving vehicle is hit from behind. A passing collision takes place when a motorist passes a farm vehicle without taking into consideration the extra width or length of the vehicle.

Tips for motorists

  • Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles, especially during planting and harvest seasons.
  • Be patient and don't assume the farmer can move aside to let you pass. The shoulders may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle.
  • Slow down as soon as you see the farm vehicle.

Tips for farm vehicle operators

  • Make your intentions known when you're turning by using signal lights or the appropriate hand signal in advance of a turn.
  • Drive slow-moving vehicles in the right-hand lane as close to the edge of the roadway as safely possible. Traveling half on the shoulder may cause motorists to risk passing in a dangerous situation.
  • Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over where it is safe, and let the traffic go by.

In Iowa , there are approximately three fatalities each year that involve tree or crop sight obstructions. Most rural intersections and rail crossings in rural areas are not marked with stop or yield signs. "These intersections should always be approached with caution," said Tom Welch, state safety engineer, "especially when the view is obstructed by crops or trees.

Welch said motorists should treat these intersections as if they had stop or yield signs posted and not enter the intersection until they are absolutely certain no vehicles are coming from the side roads or railroad tracks, and then proceed with caution.

#

 

 

.

 
  This Iowa DOT page maintained by the , Iowa Department of Transportation
Iowa Department of Transportation