It has been a rainy spring and that—coupled with warmer temperatures—means seasonal growth on Missouri roadways. The Missouri Department of Transportation urges motorists to use caution when encountering tractor mowers near the shoulder of interstates and other busy roadways beginning this month and throughout the summer.
“Even the most aggressive warning lights and signs aren’t effective when drivers are distracted,” said MoDOT State Maintenance Director Natalie Roark. “For the health and wellbeing of our workers and yourself, please watch out for our crews, slow down, buckle up and put your phone down. We want everyone to get home safely.”
Major and minor routes are mowed in three cycles usually starting in mid-May and continuing in July and September. MoDOT mows about 400,000 acres of grass statewide each year, which is equivalent to 300,000 football fields. Along with mowing, crews selectively use herbicides to stunt vegetation growth, control brush and stop the spread of noxious weeds. Encouraging wildflower growth and using herbicides carefully adds additional benefits in reducing the amount of time spent mowing.
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. Put your cellphone down and avoid other distractions.
- 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, you can report grass and weeds blocking visibility at intersections along state roads by calling MoDOT’s 24/7 Customer Service Center at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or by going to MoDOT.org and clicking on Report A Road Concern.