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Highway Patrol Says To Use Caution With Farm Machinery On The Roads During Planting Season

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Peter Mooney/Flickr, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode
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As temperatures rise, southeast Missouri motorists are likely seeing a higher number of farmers on their way to plant crops or move livestock with large machinery on the roads.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says to use caution on the roads during planting season, especially on two-lane highways in rural parts of the region.

If you approach a tractor or other farm machinery, the patrol says to slow down and be patient. Before passing, wait until you have a clear view of the road ahead, and make sure there is no oncoming traffic. Never pass on a hill or curve.

Most collisions between cars and farm machinery occur when motorists attempt to pass a left-turning farm vehicle. The patrol says when equipment pulls to the right of the road, they may appear to be letting motorists pass. But, they are most likely preparing to make a wide left turn. Watching the farmer’s hand and light signals can be beneficial in this instance.  

For farmers on the road, the patrol says any equipment being driven on Missouri roadways must be properly marked with lights and a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem.

They also recommend driving as far to the right as possible. If traffic accumulates behind you and your equipment on a hill or curve, you should pull off into a level area on the side of the road, so those vehicles can pass.

Under Missouri law, agricultural machinery can be operated on state highways between sunset and sunrise for agricultural purposes, only if they are equipped with the required lighting. But, the patrol says to avoid travelling on roadways at dawn or dusk if possible, as it’s more difficult for motorists to see.

All-terrain vehicles (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. Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a safety helmet when operating an ATV, but the patrol recommends operators of all ages wear a safety helmet.

According to the MSHP, 171 Missouri traffic crashes in 2017 involved farm equipment. Among those crashes, five people were killed and 40 were injured.