Harvest season bringing increased tractor traffic

A heads up for Ozarks area drivers this fall
Missouri State Highway Patrol & local tractor businesses are warning motorists of increased tractor traffic as harvest season gets underway.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:13 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:26 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - In 2021, Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to 203 traffic crashes involving tractors and other farm equipment.

In those crashes, seven people died, with an additional 60 injured. Not only does the State Highway Patrol want drivers to be aware of increased tractor traffic across the Ozarks. So does Mark Giffin, manager of Heritage Tractor in Rogersville.

“It’s always a concern with our farmers, and it really should be with our local motorists that travel these county roads,” says Giffin. He cautions motorists to be aware of tractors and other farm equipment that will normally run on the road at 10 to 20 mph as harvest season continues over the next several weeks. While some farm equipment is out there that can travel a little faster, Giffin stresses that speed is not what the machines are designed for. “Due to the dynamics of the big tires and such, this equipment - balers and other farming equipment - is not designed for speed of travel on a highway.”

The farmers and tractor operators going at that speed are doing so in the name of safety - for themselves, motorists, to protect their equipment and crop. “It’s not because they’re trying to block or hold up traffic,” Giffin stresses. “They’re trying to be as safe as they can. The last thing they want is to damage a piece of their equipment or the crop they’re pulling.”

Compared to the past tractors, Giffin is grateful for the advances in technology to make tractors and farm equipment more visible while on the road. “We see most of our tractors with flashers on the rear and flashers on the front,” Giffin said. “They usually have 4 to 6 to 8 different lights, with a lot of them using high-definition LED lights which really brightens things up out there. That’s a big help.”

Even with those advances, Giffin and the Missouri State Highway Patrol emphasize that drivers should stay alert for slow-moving farm equipment, especially on rural roads. When motorists approach a tractor or farm machinery from behind, drivers should slow down and be patient. If motorists have a clear view of the road ahead and don’t see any oncoming traffic, motorists can safely pass. MSHP stresses that motorists should not pass on a hill or a curve. Another essential tip for motorists... Watch for hand signals and light signals closely. A tractor pulling to the right shoulder to let people pass may be preparing to make a wide left turn. That’s one common way for a collision of this type.

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