A sure sign of springtime: motorists will see tractor mowers near the shoulder of interstates and other roadways.
The Missouri Department of Transportation will start its annual mowing operations and is urging motorists to be on the lookout for slow-moving equipment. MoDOT mows about 400,000 acres of grass each year, which is equivalent to 300,000 football fields.
“Our mowing operations keep Missouri roadsides safe and attractive,” said Becky Allmeroth, MoDOT State Maintenance Engineer/Chief Safety and Operations Officer. “Please watch out for our crews and their equipment.”
Major and minor routes are mowed in three cycles usually starting in mid-May, mid-July and mid-September. Along with mowing, crews selectively use herbicides to stunt vegetation growth, control brush and stop the spread of noxious weeds. Wildflowers and careful herbicide usage add additional benefits in that they reduce the amount of time spent mowing fence-to-fence.
On rural two-lane roads, crews may use a protective “follow” truck to alert motorists they are approaching slow-moving mowers. Drivers are advised to use the following tips to safely pass mowers:
Be alert for trucks and tractors with lights flashing and moving slowly, 2 to 5 mph.
Slow down and focus on the road ahead of you. Do not talk and text on a cell phone or drive distracted. Buckle Up Phone Down.
Be prepared to stop or drive very slowly behind a “follow” truck, especially approaching a hill or curve on a two-lane road.
Obey the no passing zone stripes and only pass when you can see far enough past the “follow” truck to avoid meeting oncoming traffic.
Between mowing cycles, report grass and weeds blocking visibility at intersections along state roads to MoDOT. Contact MoDOT’s 24/7 Customer Service Center at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or fill out an online form at www.modot.org and click on Report A Road Concern at the bottom of the page.