The harvest season brings an increase in tractor traffic

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – In 2021, the Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to 203 traffic accidents involving tractors and other agricultural equipment. In those accidents, 7 people were killed and 60 others were injured. The State Highway Patrol doesn’t just want drivers to be aware of increased tractor traffic across the Ozarks. So did Mark Geffen, director of Heritage Tractor in Rogersville.

“It’s always a concern for our farmers, and it should be with our local motorists who travel on these county roads,” says Geffen. He cautions motorists to be aware of tractors and other farm equipment that will typically run on the road at 10 to 20 mph as the harvest continues over the next several weeks. While there are some farming equipment that can travel a little faster, Geffin stresses that speed is not what the machines are designed for. “Due to the great tire dynamics and so forth, this equipment — pistons and other agricultural equipment — is not designed for fast highway travel.”

The farmers and tractor operators who go so fast do so in the name of safety – for themselves, for motorists, to protect their equipment and their crops. “It’s not because they’re trying to block or disrupt traffic,” Geffin asserts. “They are trying to be as safe as possible. The last thing they want to do is damage a piece of their equipment or the crop they are towing.”

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

Even with these developments, Giffin and Missouri State Highway Patrol stress that drivers must remain alert for slow-moving farm equipment, especially on country roads. When motorists approach a tractor or agricultural machine from behind, drivers should slow down and be patient. If motorists have a clear view of the road ahead and do not see any oncoming traffic, motorists can pass safely. The MSHP stresses that motorists should not pass over a hill or curve. Another important tip for motorists… Watch your hand signals and traffic lights closely. A tractor that might pull to the right shoulder to let people pass might actually be preparing to take a wide turn to the left. This is a common way for collisions of this type to occur.

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