Farmers remind drivers to watch out for heavy machinery during harvest season

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LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) Farmers and law enforcement officers are asking drivers to be careful on the roads this harvest season to help avoid crashes that they said happen all too often.

A near-miss between vehicles that are attempting to pass a slow-moving piece of farm equipment and oncoming traffic captured on dashcam video from Dubuque County (Courtesy Photo)

Chris Platner, a Linn County-based farmer, only has to drive his heavy machinery a couple of miles down County Home Road. In that short drive, a lot can happen, so he has to take his own safety precautions.

"We got four-way flashers on all the equipment," Platner said. "The newer stuff has rotary beacons so you can see it from further away."

Even with those additions, drivers can still struggle to spot him. Platner recalled a few close calls happening each year.

"I've had a car pass me, and they got so close enough that I could see the driver's eyeballs,” Platner said. “Even narrow equipment. And I'm holding to the right so people can see, and people will try to pass me to oncoming traffic and it's just scary."

Law enforcement officers respond to similar situations on a regular basis. Major Chad Colston, with the Linn County Sheriff's Office, said he encourages drivers to "aim high."

"Don't look just in front of your vehicle, look way down the road and plan ahead for anything that may come up,” Colston said.

That means leaving plenty of room for farmers and only pass in a designated zone.

"People get impatient and they pass when they shouldn't,” Platner said.

Platner and his dad run a farm in Marion, and they worry each time they haul supplies on the road. They said there's not much a farmer can do if a driver hits them, with their heavy equipment very likely to cause significant damage.

Platner added he experiences the most issues while trying to turn off of a highway. So he encourages drivers to really pay attention to the flashers on the equipment.