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Cellphones and rural roadways do not mix at harvest

Media contact:

Linda Geist
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185
Email: GeistLi@missouri.edu

Photo available for this release:

Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Credit: Photo illustration by Jared Fogue, MU Plant Sciences

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

Story source:

Karen Funkenbusch, 573-884-1268

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Fall harvest and texting do not mix, says University of Missouri Extension safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch. Turn your cellphone to TTYL (talk to you later).

Rural roads are full of hazards in the fall.

Farmers move large equipment from one field to another during harvest. They make wide turns, and large equipment reduces visibility. School buses make frequent stops on their morning and afternoon runs.

Shortened daylight hours and pending inclement weather force farmers and seasonal farmworkers to work long hours during harvest. Fatigue and stress reduce concentration and increase response time, Funkenbusch says.

Add texting drivers and you have a recipe for disaster, she says. Keep your hands on the steering wheel of your car, combine or grain truck at all times.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that texting makes the driver 23 times more likely to crash. That is the same as driving after drinking four beers, NHTSA says.

Reduce the need for speed during harvest season. 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.

Funkenbusch says family members should talk about texting and driving whether they live in town or the country. Remind new drivers of the dangers of slow-moving farm equipment during planting and harvest seasons.

“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.”

Farmers and workers should avoid the temptation to talk or text on cellphones while operating combines or driving grain trucks.

Funkenbusch offers these tips for drivers:

  • Be on the lookout for farm machinery that may turn unexpectedly onto public roads from fields or driveways.
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Allow extra travel time during harvest.
  • Watch for roadside obstacles such as mailboxes, bridges or road signs that may cause the machinery operator to move to the center of the road.
  • Allow extra time and room to pass farm equipment.
  • Obey traffic rules, share the road and be courteous.

For more information on how to be safe on the farm, go to extension.missouri.edu/farm-safety.