With farmers in and out of fields for harvest season, it’s important for everyone to do their part to help keep our farmers and motorists safe. One study by the University of Iowa indicates that equipment-related accidents in the nine Midwestern states alone account for over 1,100 accidents a year[1]. Many of these accidents can be avoided by having patience, using extreme caution, and following a few simple recommendations:

Recommendations for Motorists:

  • Wait until it’s safe to pass farm equipment. Make sure you have clear visibility and plenty of time to get around them.
  • Be prepared to stop at railroad crossings when following a vehicle towing anhydrous ammonia. Federal and state regulations require all vehicles transporting this substance come to a complete stop prior to crossing any active railroad tracks[2].
  • Slow down at the first sight of farm equipment on the roadway. Farm equipment usually travels less than 25 miles per hour, and it only takes a matter of seconds for a vehicle traveling at 55 miles an hour to catch up to these slow moving vehicles.
  • Drive defensively, especially when approaching on-coming farm equipment. Impatient motorists may attempt to pass when it’s not safe or when they have poor visibility.

Recommendations for Farmers:

  • Always mount Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblems to equipment. This is the law in many states [3].
  • Use turn signals or proper hand signals to communicate intentions to motorists.
  • Make sure equipment has appropriate lighting and/or have an escort vehicle follow you to allow for the best visibility for approaching motorists.
  • If traffic is backing up behind you, attempt to let traffic pass when there are no oncoming vehicles.

Road safety this harvest season is in our control. These recommendations and a little patience, caution, and common sense can go a long way towards making sure our farmers and motorists stay safe.


[1] Ramirez, M. Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health. “Farm Equipment Crash Study.”

[2] Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. “A Guide to Anhydrous Ammonia Regulations.”

[3] Kirk Hall, P. The Ohio State University. “Ohio Law on Speed Identification Symbols on Farm Machinery.”

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