Spunaugle urges defensive driving during fall harvest

Fall harvest season is beginning in Southwest Iowa and will continue for the next couple of months. Similar to planting season, it’s the time of the year when motorists and farmers share roads.
According to Iowa State University Extension Safe Farm, October has nearly twice as many collisions as any other month. The most common time of day for collisions to occur is between 4 and 8 p.m., which could be due to the large number of commuters coming home from work, plus farm operators returning from fields.
Montgomery County Sheriff Jon Spunaugle said the combination of slow moving farm equipment and fast moving motor vehicles can be a deadly combination.
“Defensive driving is critical,” Spunaugle said.
Spunaugle explained there are two common types of crashes between motor vehicles and farm implements. The first involves the implement making a left hand turn as the motorist goes to pass. The second involves the motorist rear-ending the farm implement.
“Farm equipment isn’t very maneuverable. Its size makes it hard to move over quickly and it takes longer for it to turn into driveways or intersections,” said Spunaugle. “When approaching these guys, you have to keep in mind they could be turning at any point into a field entrance.”
He added the speed difference between farm implements and motor vehicles is the second key factor in crashes.
Most farm equipment operates at speeds under 25 miles per hour. A motor vehicle at 55 miles per hour coming up behind a farm implement has only seconds to stop before a crash might occur. It only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field when driving 55 miles per hour. Any type of distracted driving, such as checking a text message or being tired, can make stopping without a crash nearly impossible.
“It’s important to be alert and remember that these farm implements don’t behave like cars and pick-up trucks when it comes to speed, turning or braking,” Spunaugle said. “It’s also important to remember, especially on gravel roads, you don’t know what’s over the crest of the hill.”
Being stuck behind a slow moving piece of machinery on roads can make it very tempting to pass as soon as possible, but it is the responsibility of the driver to make sure it is a safe passing opportunity. Passing farm equipment can be more difficult than another motor vehicle because they could be turning into a driveway, field or intersection, which can cause them to change road positions rather quickly. Additionally, because of blind spots, motor vehicles might not be visible to the farm equipment operator.
“We live in an agricultural community where we will encounter farm implements on roadways several times a year. We need to keep plenty of distance between them and us and wait until we have a clear line of sight before passing. Saving five or 10 minutes on your drive time isn’t worth the risk.”
Lastly, Spunaugle said with farmers getting into fields for harvest and cooler nights, it leads to an increase of deer movement. Again, defensive driving is key to avoiding a collision.
“Pay attention while driving. We’ve already seen an increase of deer, which is also something that will continue into the next few months.”

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

Comment Here