Watch out for that tractor

It TMs harvesting season, and that means more farm equipment takes to the roadways.

The Iowa Department of Transportation released the statistics for 2009 traffic crashes involving farm equipment and vehicles.

The statistics included six fatalities in Iowa. There were 208 crashes, most out of the five-year data.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jerry Droz says farmers make every effort to keep the roadway safe, but the responsibility still falls on the drivers, which he says are often impatient.

People get in a hurry and ~gotta do this, gotta do that TM instead of settling back and taking the time (to pass a farm vehicle at the right time), Droz said.

Droz said one issue they sometimes face is people unfamiliar with farms sometimes underestimate the size of equipment and do not give it enough respect.

A lot of people who are not around farming don TMt realize how big the equipment is and how slow it really does move.

Despite their growing size, the slow moving equipment can sneak up on you faster than you anticipate.

We got to be careful with the closing rate because if your running 55-60 mph the closing rate TMs going to be real quick. They TMre only running 15 mph so that TMs something you need to keep an eye on.

Droz said the farmers need to be out there doing their job, and you need to keep a keen eye out for them, because they may not always be able to see all directions at once.

The equipment when it goes to crossroads it will be moving slower than we are and a lot of times it TMs going to be on a hill with a crest or a curve or something you can TMt see.

Tips for motorists

Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles, especially during the fall harvest season.

Be patient and do not assume the farmer can move aside to let you pass. The shoulder may be unable to support a heavy farm vehicle.

Be particularly cautious as you approach curves and hills along the roadways.

Slow down as soon as you see the triangular-shaped, red and fluorescent orange, slow-moving vehicle emblem.

Tips for farm vehicle operators

Make your intentions known when you are turning by using your turn signal or the appropriate hand signal in advance of a turn.

Drive slow-moving vehicles in the right-hand lane as close to the edge of the roadway as safely possible. Traveling half on the shoulder may cause motorists to risk passing in a dangerous situation.

Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over where it is safe and let the traffic go by.

Mount slow-moving vehicle emblems as high as possible on your equipment.

Replace faded and worn slow-moving emblems, and clean any dirty emblems.

Head to the Iowa Department of Transportation's website: for more information.