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Farmers, motorists encouraged to stay alert during harvest season

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Missouri farmers are hard at work harvesting their crops and will be for the coming weeks. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers to share the road. 

Expect to see an increase in farm machinery traffic, especially on rural highways. Farmers and motorists alike are encouraged to be safe, courteous drivers.

In 2020, there were 199 Missouri traffic crashes involving farm equipment. In those crashes, two people were killed and 73 were injured.

The Highway Patrol encourages farmers to make sure their farm equipment is properly marked with lights and a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem when they travel on the roadway. If traffic accumulates behind farm equipment on the road where it is difficult to make a safe pass, farmers should pull off onto the side of the road in a level area, so vehicles can pass. Always drive as far to the right as possible. 

It's harder to see farm equipment at dawn or dusk, so farmers are encouraged not to travel on the road during those times if possible. 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 operators wear a safety helmet regardless of age.

Other motorists should stay alert for slow-moving farm equipment. When coming up behind a tractor or other farm machinery, drivers should slow down and be patient. 

Wait to pass until there is 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 may be preparing to make a wide left turn. Watch the farmer’s hand and light signals closely. 

It's important to 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.

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