Spring time is a busy season for our customers and all producers, as they work diligently to get seeds planted and work around inclement weather.
At Ag Partners, the safety of our employees and our customers is first and foremost, so we will regularly be posting safety tips and information here and our our social media accounts to raise awareness and keep safety a focus.
Our first article in our Spring Safety Series has to do with reducing farm accident risks on the road. Iowa State Extension has really great resources on safety that are free to read, you can find them here. Here are the highlights from their Safe Farm article called "Reduce Farm Accident Risks on Roads":
It’s early June and you are hurrying to finish
planting after a break in the weather. As you
slow down to turn left into a field, a car trying
to pass sideswipes your tractor.
Both situations are common in Iowa.
The Iowa Department of Transportation
(IDOT) records the number of collisions on
public roads and right-of-way that involve
The most common collisions occur when
the approaching motorist hits a farm
vehicle from behind (rear-end collision),
or when a passing motorist hits a farm
vehicle that is attempting to make a
wide left turn (left sideswipe). These two
situations each account for 22 percent of
the total number of two-vehicle collisions
in Iowa that involve a farm vehicle.
Although only a small percentage of vehicular
injuries lead to a fatality, the National Safety
Council and IDOT data show that a collision
involving a farm vehicle is about five times
more likely to produce a fatality than other
types of motor vehicle accidents.
This publication discusses several reasons
why these collisions occur, what make
collisions involving a farm vehicle more likely
to produce injuries and death than other types
of collisions, and how to reduce your risk.
Differences in speed
When a farm vehicle is involved in
a collision in the public right-of-way,
there often is a large difference in the
relative speed of the two vehicles. A
passenger car traveling at 55 miles per
hour approaches a tractor traveling in
the same direction at 15 miles per hour
at a rate of 59 feet per second. If the
car does not slow down, it reduces the
distance between itself and the tractor
by the length of a football field in just
Motorists can quickly come up on a
farm vehicle unless they brake as soon
as they see the farm vehicle. However,
a car traveling at 55 miles per hour
requires 224 feet of total stopping
distance (for average reaction time
and braking). Therefore, the driver of
the car in the previous example would
have only a few seconds to decide to
slow down and avoid a collision with
When the two vehicles collide, a
rough measure of the amount of
energy that must be absorbed by
metal, brakes, bodies, etc., is the
difference in the square of the two
vehicles’ speeds (if both vehicles are
going in the same direction). If the
two vehicles in the example collided
with a 40 mph difference in speed (55-
15), there would be 2,800 units of energy
on impact (552-152). A collision of two
vehicles traveling at speeds of 45 mph
and 55 mph has only about a third as
much energy on impact (552-452=1,000).
When vehicles are traveling in opposite
directions, energy increases.
Unfamiliarity with vehicle
Non-farm motorists may not immediately
recognize farm equipment on roadways or
be aware of the special hazards they present.
Lighting and reflector locations on tractors,
combines, and other farm equipment are
different from other motor vehicles. During
either day or night, an unfamiliar vehicle
outline may delay recognition of farm
vehicles by the non-farm motorist. Loads
on farm vehicles may be wider than other
vehicles, which present special hazards for
other motorists when left, right, rear, and
front projections are not easily recognizable.
Poorly maintained warning signs
The slow-moving vehicle emblem is
recognizable to many non-farm motorists.
It’s important to maintain SMV emblems,
as well as other reflectors, lighting, and
equipment systems, to provide maximum
visibility of farm vehicles to other motorists. A
check of lighting and marking on 130 tractors
and wagons during harvest at Iowa grain
elevators showed that although front lighting
(both white and amber flashing warning
lights) was being well maintained, rear
lighting and marking was often substandard.
Because a common collision situation involves
a second vehicle approaching from the rear,
equipment operators should pay special
attention to rear lighting and marking.
Not knowing operator intentions
Non-farm motorists may not understand
farm equipment limitations, or see hidden
field entrances. For example, the broad
turning radius of many tractor-implement
combinations requires operators to steer
slightly to the right before making a wide
left turn. Although a tractor operator
may be using a left-turn signal, it may
be hidden from the rear by another
implement, or motorists may ignore the
signal and think the tractor is turning right
Ways to avoid accidents
- Make sure you’re visible. Maintain
existing lighting and marking on farm
equipment. Clean reflectors, light lenses,
and mirrors of mud, snow, ice, manure,
or other debris before entering public
right-of-way. Replace cracked lenses and
burned-out light bulbs. Repair wiring
if necessary to make lights operative.
Replace faded SMV emblems. Maintain
or add rear view mirrors to allow vision
around the side of wagons or wide loads.
- Know the law. Become familiar with
requirements of the Iowa Code and
recommendations of the American Society
of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) for
lighting and marking farm equipment
(see other publications listed below).
Consider installation of additional lighting
and reflectors if equipment does not meet
ASAE recommendations. Add marking and
lighting to the rear of implements used on
roadways and implements that obscure rear
tractor lighting. If loads project more than
4 feet from the center of your vehicle, add
reflectors or lighting to mark the extreme
left and right projections.
- Drive defensively. All roadway travel is
a team effort between yourself and other
drivers. Do not assume that other drivers
will see you pulling out of a driveway or
anticipate your turn into a field. Allow
plenty of distance before pulling in front of
traffic. Assess alternate routes to the field
and/or different travel times during which
you can avoid high traffic. For example,
can a morning chore schedule be changed
to avoid roadway travel during a peak
From all of us at Ag Partners, stay safe this planting season!