The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers to expect heavier farm machinery traffic — especially on two-lane highways in rural parts of the state

Spring is here and temperatures appear to be warming. That means farmers throughout Missouri will be busy 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. 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.

There were 171 Missouri traffic crashes involving farm equipment in 2017. In those crashes, five people were killed and 40 were injured.

Farming plays a vital role in Missouri’s economy, history and identity. The following are reminders for safe travel during this busy time of year:

Motorists

Stay alert for slow-moving farm equipment. When you come up behind a tractor or other farm machinery, please slow down and be patient. Wait to pass until you have 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.

Farmers

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 you on a road where it is difficult to make a safe pass, you should pull off 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 it is more difficult for drivers of other vehicles to see. However, 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. 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.

Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Every day as Missourians travel on Missouri’s roadways, they trust that every driver on the road is going to obey the speed limit, pay attention, and drive sober. “Don’t Violate The Trust.”

Follow the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Twitter @MSHPTrooperGHQ