JEFFERSON CITY – Farmers throughout Missouri will be busy, or getting ready for, planting crops and moving livestock.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers to expect heavier farm machinery traffic, especially on two-lane highways in rural parts of the state, including Highways 13 and 10 in Ray county.
“Please obey all traffic laws and remain vigilant. Most importantly, everyone is encouraged to share the road. Farmers and motorists alike should be safe, courteous drivers,” the patrol stated.
Missouri experienced 171 traffic crashes involving farm equipment in 2017, with five people killed on 40 injured, patrol information states.
The following are reminders from the patrol for safe travel during this busy time of year…
• Stay alert for slow-moving farm equipment.
• When you come up behind a tractor or other farm machinery, slow down and be patient. Wait to pass until seeing a clear view of the road ahead and there is no oncoming traffic. Never pass on a hill or curve.
• Collisions commonly occur when a motorist tries to pass a left-turning farm vehicle. A tractor that appears to be pulling to the right side of the road to let motorists pass, instead may be preparing to make a wide left turn. Watch the farmer’s hand and light signals closely.
• Pay close attention to farm equipment entering and leaving the highway from side roads and driveways.
• Special attention must be paid when traveling at dawn or dusk when the sun makes it difficult for drivers to see.
• Make sure any farm equipment being driven on Missouri roadways is properly marked with lights and a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem.
• Drive as far to the right as possible.
• If traffic accumulates behind the farm vehicle on a road where passing safely is difficult, should the equipment onto the side of the road in a level area so the vehicles can pass.
• If possible, never travel on roadways at dawn or dusk when seeing is more difficult for drivers of other vehicles. Missouri law allows agricultural machinery and implements to be operated on state highways between the hours of sunset and sunrise for agricultural purposes, provided such vehicles are equipped with the required lighting.
• Like other motor vehicles, most modern farm tractors have seat belts. Always use a seat belt when operating a tractor equipped with a roll-over protection structure.
• Often, all-terrain vehicles are used for agricultural purposes. ATVs being used for farming can only travel on highways during daylight hours and must be equipped with lights, a bicycle flag and a "slow-moving vehicle" emblem. The law requires anyone under the age of 18 to wear a safety helmet when operating an ATV; the patrol, however, recommends all operators wear a safety helmet regardless of age.
“Driving is a full-time job for everyone,” patrol information states. “Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers. Whether you’re driving a vehicle or operating farm machinery, you must pay attention to the roadway, other drivers, and traffic signs. It’s that simple.”