Sharing the road during fall harvest 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 signs of fall starting to show, harvest is off to an earlier than average start.

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office reminds drivers to be aware of the farm machinery during the busy fall 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 with 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. 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. Drivers should also be on the lookout for agricultural vehicles turning in and out of farm field driveways.

The majority of farm machinery has greatly improved warning lighting and reflectors compared to older equipment. 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.

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.

Fall is a busy season in rural areas like Marshall County. The Sheriff’s Office works to keep the roadways safe for everyone including the motorists and those in the agricultural community. Everyone needs to do their part to be safe and get to their destination or farm without being involved in a crash.

For additional information or questions, contact Sgt. Ben Veren, Sheriff’s Office, 641-754-6380, or