Stay Alert during harvest time

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The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds drivers that this is the time of year when crops are harvested. Thus, drivers should expect heavier farm machinery traffic--especially on rural highways. Farming plays a vital role in Missouri’s economy, history, and identity. Safety is important to drivers and farmers sharing the road!

“If you live or will be traveling through a farming community, please stay alert and drive courteously,” said Colonel Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “Motorists should watch for farm implements on the roadway this time of year, as farmers reap the benefits of their hard work. The Patrol also encourages farmers to be extra vigilant while on the roadway during the harvest season.”

September 18-24, 2011 is National Farm Safety and Health Week. This annual promotion commemorates the hard work, diligence, and sacrifices of our nation’s farmers and ranchers. Safety should come first that week and every week during the harvest season. There were a total of 157 Missouri traffic crashes involving farm equipment in 2010.  In those crashes one driver was killed and 23 were injured. In addition, three farm tractor passengers were injured.

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.

* Like other motor vehicles, most modern farm tractors have seat belts.
Always use a seat belt when operating a tractor equipped with a rollover 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 SMV 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 to wear a safety helmet regardless of age.

* A new law, which went into effect on August 28, 2008, defines a utility vehicle and outlines permitted use.  A utility vehicle is defined as any motorized vehicle manufactured and used exclusively for off-highway use which is 63" or less in width, with an unladen dry weight of 1,850 pounds or less, traveling on four or six wheels, to be used primarily for landscaping, lawn care, or maintenance purposes. Utility vehicles may not be operated on highways in Missouri unless.

(1) the utility vehicle is owned and operated by a governmental entity for official use.

(2) The utility vehicle is operated for agricultural or industrial purposes between sunrise and sunset (unless equipped with proper lighting).

(3) The utility vehicle is operated by a handicapped person occasionally, for short distances, on secondary roads, between sunrise and sunset.

(4) With ATVs now, cities and counties will be allowed to issue permits for operation of utility vehicles on highways or county roads within their political boundaries. The maximum speed limit for utility vehicles operated on roadways under this provision will be limited to less than 45 mph, and operators (except handicapped persons) must have a driver’s license. No passengers are allowed unless the utility vehicle is being operated for agricultural purposes, or the seat is designed to carry more than one person.