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. 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.