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Think safety during harvest season

October 17, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Iowa farmers are midway through their harvest season after a rainy half of summer and reminders are out to drivers to be safe around farm equipment on roads. for the benefit of both parties.

"Farmers try to stay off busier roads whenever possible, however this isn't always possible depending on where their next farm is," Tama County Farm Bureau President Emily Ewoldt said. "Farmers take all steps needed to reduce hazards on the road, ex - take off heads, have people assist in following them and leading them with hazards on, etc."

Ewoldt's father and uncle operate a farm in county and she has been involved in agriculture all of her life. She has watched as vehicles try to pass long lines of farm equipment with not enough time to do so and forced to get in between farm equipment.

Article Photos

Dan & Greg Ewoldt harvest on their farm with farm equipment. Photo submitted.

"I feel like drivers believe they have more time when passing farm equipment then they actually do," Ewoldt said. "I also believe they think that it's okay to pass in a no passing zone. Also, I don't think people realize that it's never ok or safe to pass farm equipment on a bridge, as the road narrows and they must move over and take up more room."

Harvest normally begins with seed corn production usually at the end of August or beginning of September and usually ends by mid November. Acording to Ewoldt, harvest time all depends on mother nature. She states this year's harvest started earlier then usual but with the wet, dreary weather, and believes it is looking like it's going to take a lot longer than usual.

To promote road safety during harvest season, Iowa State University has provided the following safety tips for drivers on the road.

Slow down immediately when you see farm equipment ahead of you on the road. Farm equipment isn't very fast, think 15-20 mph on the road on average perhaps. If you are driving 55 mph, you are covering around 80 feet per second; it won't take very long to be right on top of a slow moving vehicle.

Be patient and wait to safely pass farm equipment. Unsafe passing was one of the primary factors of a lot of our motor vehicle accidents we responded to in the fall.

Along those same lines, be careful when approaching on-coming farm equipment. Oncoming vehicles might not be as patient as you are and pull out suddenly to pass the farm equipment-right into your path.

Farm equipment often has to make wide turns, so be aware of that and help out by being patient and giving them room to turn.

Since some of the equipment is fairly wide, you may still have to edge out on the other side of the road, further than normal; even though growers are very good at getting over as far as they safely can to let you by. Road shoulders can be notoriously tricky; they are even more challenging when the ground is as wet as it is now.

Harvest seems to amplify deer movement both day and night. Watch your speed and scan your surroundings for them as you drive. Like anything else, situational awareness will help reduce risk.



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