Know the 'rural rules of the road' before traveling outside town - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Know the 'rural rules of the road' before traveling outside town


Every year, 300 people are injured on Iowa's roads in crashes involving farm vehicles.  Those types of collisions are more likely to involve injury and death than other types of traffic accidents.

With farmers trying to get the crop planted by Mother's Day, you'll likely see a lot of farm vehicles out on the roads this weekend.

"This time of year, just assume it's going to take longer to get to your destination if you're traveling the rural areas,” pointed out Joel DeJong, an agronomist for the Iowa State University Extension in Plymouth County.

During spring, tractors pulling planters and tillers with disks rule the roadways. Some farmers are still hauling grain as well. The rest of us, may not be aware of the special hazards farm equipment presents.

"It's hard to tell that we're going that slow until you come right up on us. Sometimes it's too late,” explained Danny Pick, a Merrill, Iowa farmer.

Such was the case for Pick.

"I was between Merrill and Hinton and a semi rear-ended me. It shattered my right leg, and my left leg got cut up really bad and they had to amputate it,” he said.

It takes a car traveling 55 mph just five seconds to catch up to a tractor going 15 miles per hour.

"That's like at 50 miles per hour hitting a wall,” said DeJong.

The Iowa Department of Transportation says a farm-vehicle accident is five times as likely to result in a fatality. It's a common courtesy for farmers to pull to the side

"If they can get around as quick as possible it really helps us,” added Terry Reuter, who farms near Remsen, Iowa.

Sometimes, it's not possible for farmers to pull to the shoulder.

“We want to get over. If we're not stopping, then we're looking out for the neighbor's mailbox maybe that we're going to take out if we don't get over,” Reuter explained.

Of course, preventing these types of accidents is a two-way street. Farmers are required by law to post a slow-moving vehicle sign on the back of their farm equipment. Many also have lights and reflectors.

"We've got 'em lit up like Christmas trees,” said Reuter.

It's also recommended that they avoid some roads during busy traffic times.

"It's hard to put off something two, or three, or four hours when you can make a lot of progress in that time period,” said DeJong.

These types of accidents can be prevented, with a little knowledge and a lot of patience.

"Don't get impatient, because impatience is what's going to get you in trouble,” he added.

Rear-end collisions and sideswipes, when people try to pass turning vehicles are the most common.

Farmers need a lot of room to turn those wide vehicles.

So, they may pull to the right to make a left turn, much like a semi-truck.

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