In Missouri, autumn is harvest season. Among other things, it means that farm equipment will be on the roadways. While drivers should take special precautions around these huge machines, car accidents involving farm equipment are not always the fault of the driver.
Farm Equipment on the Road Raise Risk of Car Crashes
Every year in October in Missouri, harvest season forces farmers to move large and heavy pieces of machinery, like tractors, from field to field. While this occasionally happens during the rest of the year, it is a common occurrence in the fall.
Because these tractors are so big and slow, though, drivers in the regular flow of traffic often get impatient. That can lead to poor decision-making and a car accident. Back in 2017, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 171 crashes that involved farming equipment, leading to 40 injuries and 5 fatalities. Police say that these crashes increase during the harvesting months.
Not All of These Crashes are the Car’s Fault
Farmers occasionally insist that all of these accidents are the fault of the car. They often claim that, because the tractor is going so slowly, there is no way that it could have caused the crash.
While the tractor’s speed is what set in motion the chain of events that led to the crash, Missouri law expressly allows for their presence on roadways. There are some caveats to this, though, and tractor drivers who do not follow these specialized rules may be liable for any resulting crash.
Driving Rules for Farm Equipment
While tractors and other farming equipment are allowed on the roadways in Missouri, they have to stay as far to the right as possible when there is other traffic present, when rounding curves, and whenever the tractor driver’s view is restricted. They also have to use hand signals before turning, and are supposed to pull over whenever traffic has built up behind them and it is unsafe to pass, ahead.
Tractor drivers also have to take special precautions to make their farming equipment safe and visible to other drivers, before going on the roadway. They have to:
- Install a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem (a yellow triangle with a red outline) on the back of the tractor if they are going to drive when the sun is down
- Have adequate lighting for when normal vehicles would have their headlights on
- Hoist a red flag on a pole of at least 12 feet above the tractor, so cars on the far side of a hill can see it
Tractor drivers who do not abide by these rules can be held liable for accidents that these oversights end up causing.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Victims in St. Joseph
The personal injury and car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to legally represent victims in car accidents, including those caused by negligent farmers and their equipment. Contact them online or call their St. Joseph law office at (816) 875-9373.