Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Facebook | Twitter | Home RSS

Ask a Trooper: Tractor lighting rules

August 29, 2014
By Trooper Vince Kurtz - Iowa State Patrol Safety Education , Estherville News

Q: I am the owner of a small farm operation in northwest Iowa. We don't have the resources to purchase the newer and larger tractors/combines that you see on the road today. This newer equipment often has a lot of lighting and markings that make them more visible. Do I need to be adding lighting to my older equipment to bring them up to date? What are the minimum standards for tractor lighting?

A: There is no doubt that farm machinery has gotten bigger and better over the years. Technology advances are everywhere in our world, and agriculture is no exception. GPS technology, guidance systems, precision planting and harvesting all add up to a more productive use of time. These advances also include better visibility reflective treatments and strobe/LED lighting are improving safety during on-road operation. All of these advances do have a price tag though usually costing a great deal of money. Smaller farm operations can easily feel as if they are behind the curve when it comes to technology and safety.

The Iowa Motor Vehicle Code does have very specific MINIMUM requirements for implements operating on public roadways. Here are the basic marking standards:

n SMV triangle visible from the rear (under 35mph) - 321.383

n At least one headlight from sunset to sunrise - 321.398

n At least one red light to the rear from sunset to sunrise - 321.398

n At least one amber flashing light to the rear from sunset to sunrise 321.423

The code does not require farmers to retro-fit older implements with additional lighting beyond these standards. With that being said, the bottom line is still the same: YOUR CHANCES OF BEING REAR-ENDED GO DOWN AS YOU IMPROVE THE VISIBILITY OF YOUR IMPLEMENTS.

It may cost a bit more to add lighting to an old tractor, but in the long run it may end up saving you more than just a few dollars. It could be your life or the life of a family member that it saves.

Consider adding lighting to your equipment today before the harvest is here.

"Ask a Trooper" is a reader-directed, bi-monthly publication that appears in 29 newspapers across western Iowa. Submit your question to your local editor, or directly to Trooper Kurtz at



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web