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With Harvest season upon us, farm machinery will be more prominent on the roadways. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is encouraging drivers as well as farmers to share the road safely.

The most common type of accident involving farm vehicles is a rear-end collision, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Safety Database. And, the second most common type of accident involving farm equipment is when a car attempts to pass the farm vehicle as it turns left.

In 2010, there were 157 accidents involving farm vehicles that resulted in one death and 23 injuries for people in cars and trucks and three injuries for tractor passengers.

Drivers of farm equipment are no different than drivers of any other group – there are good ones and careless ones. You are responsible for your own safety and should know how to safely navigate the road while complying with all safety rules and traffic laws.

Safely Sharing the Road with Farm Vehicles

Be patient when traveling behind farm machinery as it tends to be big and travel slowly.

Before passing a farm vehicle, make sure the driver is not attempting to turn left, which is the most common type of accident involving farm vehicles. Pass only when the road ahead is clear and there is either a dashed yellow line on your side of the road or a dashed white line.

It is illegal to pass farm equipment in a no-passing zone.

Farmers traveling at less than 25 mph are required by law to display a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem on the back of the equipment. They should also drive to the far right whenever possible.

When three or more vehicles are blocked and cannot pass on the left, slow moving vehicles are required to pull off to the right.

Travel a safe distance behind the farm vehicle to ensure the operator can see you. When a driver follows too closely, the vehicle may not be visible to the operator.

Watch for hand signals, farm vehicles don’t always have turn signals and brake lights. A tractor veering right does not always mean the operator is pulling over for you to pass. If the operator signals you to wait, do so for your safety as well as his.

The key to safely sharing the road with farm equipment is to proceed with precaution and patience.

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