This summer is proving to be a tough one for Missouri farmers, who are currently facing both extreme heat and the worst drought to hit the United States since 1956. Because of the devastating impact of the weather on crops and livestock, our farmers are desperately in need of aid. This week, Governor Jay Nixon announced that Missouri farmers will receive $7 million in funding for an emergency water assistance program. In addition, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has announced that it is temporarily suspending weight limit rules for the transportation of oversized loads of crop silage and bales.
"Livestock producers across Missouri have been hit hard by this historic period of heat and drought, and this emergency assistance is making a real difference for our farm families," said Gov. Nixon in a recent statement.
During the summer months, Missouri drivers tend to encounter an increased number of farming vehicles: these large, heavy vehicles frequently use our streets to haul hay bales and silage. Because of their size and weight, they operate much differently than passenger cars and trucks. Farm equipment is often slow-moving and tricky to maneuver, and it can be especially dangerous in the event of an auto accident.
Drivers of passenger vehicles are urged to use caution in farming areas to prevent these dangerous -- and often fatal - collisions. With farmers hard at work, other drivers can take precautions to ensure everyone's safe travel. Hobby Farms offers these safety tips for motorists who encounter farm equipment on Missouri roads:
• As soon as you see farm equipment, slow down immediately.
• Be on the lookout for hand signals. Just because a tractor veers to the side doesn't mean the driver is prompting you to pass. Remember, these vehicles often take wide turns because of their size.
• Be on the lookout for the triangular Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) sign.
• Keep an eye out for flashing amber lights. These lights are often on the far right and left of farm equipment.
• Don't hurry to speed past farm machinery. Even when you may pass safely and legally, the turbulence created by your passing vehicle may cause the machinery to sway and become unstable.
• Don't slow down suddenly in front of these vehicles. These tractors do not have the maneuverability of a car., and they require extra time to stop.
• Make sure you have enough space to pass.
• Don't expect equipment to run on the road shoulders. Driving with one set of wheels on the pavement and one set on loose-surfaced shoulders greatly increases the risk of overturning, along with other kinds of accidents. This is why farm vehicles tend to use the entire lane.