An increased number of car accidents involving farm equipment occur during Missouri’s fall harvest season. State Highway Patrol captain John Hotz reminds drivers to expect heavier farm machinery traffic, especially on rural highways.
“We know farming is one of the biggest industries in Missouri,” says Hotz. “This is a particularly heavy time of the year for traffic out there during harvest time. So, we are asking both the farmers and the motorists to share the road in a safe and courteous manner.”
Missouri House select committee on agriculture chairman Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho) also urges motorists to slow down.
In 2015, there were 209 traffic crashes involving farm equipment in Missouri – six were fatal and 165 included injuries.
“Farm equipment is going to be moving at a much slower speed,” says Hotz. “We don’t want to try to pass when we can’t see. We don’t want to try to pass on a hill or a curve.”
Farm-related car accidents commonly occur when a driver 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 could be preparing to make a wide left turn.
“That equipment is very big and it takes a lot of room and a lot of space to get those tractors turned,” says Hotz.
Farmers are also encouraged to 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, pull off onto the side of the road in a level area if traffic accumulates behind you on a road where it is difficult to make a safe pass and try not to travel on roadways at dawn or dusk.
According to a recent study, farm vehicle accidents would decline by about half if state policies aligned more closely with industry standards for lighting and marking the machinery. The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health examined regulations in nine Midwestern states — including Missouri. Study author Corrine Peek-Asa says those operating the farm equipment are not usually at fault in the crashes.