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Brush Up On Rural Roadway Safety

National Farm Safety & Health Week kicks off today, and Monday’s focus is on tractor and rural roadway safety.

The third week in September is recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week. The National Safety Council and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety head up the effort to develop and disseminate educational materials leading up to and throughout the week.

This year, the theme of National Farm Safety & Health Week is Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear. Monday, the focus is on tractor and rural roadway safety.

According to the Iowa DOT, crashes on rural roads occur more than twice as often as on state roads, despite the fact that there is much less traffic on rural roads. The number one reason for rural road crashes is driving too fast for the conditions.

To prevent being injured or killed on rural roads, the DOT advises drivers to slow down, pay close attention, be patient behind slow-moving vehicles, wear seatbelts, and be aware that road conditions can change quickly, especially on gravel roads. 

The DOT also reminds drivers that while a following distance of two seconds is normal on state roads, three seconds or more should be allowed on rural paved roads and six seconds or more on gravel roads. Also, if you can’t see a vehicle in front of you because of dust, allow more distance between you.

Print and share the Iowa DOT publication, Rural Road Crashes: They’re Preventable with family members and employees who drive. Sit down with teenagers and go over the hazards and safety tips.

Tractors on the Road

When farm vehicles are moving on rural roads, the risk of an accident increases. Farmers must rely on the public to pay attention to slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems, leave a reasonable amount of space between themselves and the farm vehicles, and pass only when it’s safe. 

There are some things farmers can do to make equipment more visible. In addition to SMV emblems, University of Iowa experts recommend using reflective tape on the widest points of equipment so it’s easy for drivers to see how large it is, making sure all lights work, adding red taillights to towed equipment, having lights on and flashing even during daylight hours, avoiding night road travel when possible, and using turning signals.

Learn More 

To continue National Farm Safety & Health Week, Tuesday will focus on opioid abuse and suicide prevention, Wednesday youth safety and health, Thursday confined spaces in agriculture, and Friday safety and health for women in agriculture. Webinars on these topics will be available each day through a partnership with AgriSafe at The webinars are free but do require a free AgriSafe account.

More information on National Farm Safety & Health Week, including several safety videos, is available at

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