Sheriff’s office: Beware of farm machinery on the roadways

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office is reminding drivers to be aware of farm machinery on the roads during the busy spring season.

Anyone who spent any time driving rural roads in Marshall County over the past few days has surely seen all the colors of the big tractors and farm machinery working the fields and driving on our roads. With the recent stretch of nice weather, the spring rush to get fields ready and crops planted is in full swing.

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office is reminding drivers to be aware of the farm machinery on the roads during the busy spring season. Farm tractors and implements are much larger and heavier than the average car or truck. Most tractors have road speeds ranging from 15-25 mph with some up to 35-40 mph. This significant difference in speed often causes cars to be involved with rear-end collisions of farm machinery. Also much of the equipment is large and can use more than the width of one traffic lane.

“Farmers have to take up more of the roadway when going through bridges or where mailboxes are next to the roadway,” said MCSO Sgt. Ben Veren. “Due to the slow speeds and large size of farm equipment, motorists need to remember to be patient and make sure that it is a safe place and time to pass.”

A lot of today’s newer farm machinery has greatly improved warning lighting and reflectors compared to older machinery. Iowa law requires that farm machinery traveling at speeds less than 35 mph display an amber flashing light visible from the rear at any time from sunset to sunrise. The law also requires that any farm tractor or implement display at all times, a reflective device identifying them as a “slow-moving vehicle.” This reflector is the orange-colored triangle with red reflective tape around the outside edge.

Veren added that farmers can also do their part to help improve the safety of their equipment on the roadway by ensuring that all warning lights and reflectors are in place and working properly and keeping mirrors and windows clean to allow the operator to safely see other motorists on the roadways.

“It’s also important to remember for operators of the slow-moving vehicles to check before making turns to ensure that nobody is passing,” he said.