Busy rural roads are full of hazards in the fall, says University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch. The often rushed harvest season puts extra traffic on narrow, gravel roads early in the morning and late at night. This extra traffic joins school buses making frequent stops on their runs and recreational vehicles headed for end-of-season storage. Dust and rain also limit vision.
Funkenbusch urges drivers to watch for farmers moving equipment from one field to another during harvest. Their equipment requires extra space and makes wide turns. Equipment may reduce visibility and slow traffic behind it.
Working long hours during harvest season can result in fatigue and stress, reducing concentration and increasing response time, Funkenbusch says. Add texting drivers and you have a recipe for disaster, she says.
The best safety advice is to slow down and be vigilant, Funkenbusch says. At 55 mph, it takes a car just five seconds to close the length of a football field and overtake a tractor moving 15 mph.
“Courtesy and patience are key to safety on the road,” she says. “Getting to your destination safely is the main goal. A few extra minutes may save lives.”
Funkenbusch offers these tips for roadway safety during harvest:
Be on the lookout for slow-moving equipment.
Keep a safe distance and slow your speed to match the farm equipment’s speed.
Don’t try to pass until you can do so safely and with ample time.
Allow extra travel time during harvest. Expect to encounter farm equipment in rural areas.
Watch for obstacles such as mailboxes, bridges or road signs that may cause the machinery operator to move to the center of the road.
Share the road and be courteous.