Labor Day is over, summer is coming to an end and kids are back in school. Indeed, my daily trek over the Missouri River bridge at Jefferson City has seen a marked increase in vehicle volume, adding to the delay of the already cumbersome construction traffic. Where there are typically two bridges — one for each direction of traffic — both are funneled into one, while the other undergoes repairs. The frustrating bridge traffic this summer has given me an opportunity to try and curb one of my biggest pet peeves: line butters.
For the last few months I’ve been practicing patience when a driver zooms past on my left after passing a mile-long line of cars already waiting to merge. Said driver then flips on his or her blinker and proceeds to butt in the line. Alas, after four months, I am no closer to being cured of my frustration at this particular annoyance.
There are other times, however, when practicing patience comes easier.
If farmers in your area haven’t already begun harvesting their crops, they soon will be. The USDA is forecasting bumper crops for corn and soybeans this year. As with any year no matter the size of the yield, combines and tractors will be moving from field to field, and using rural roads and highways to do so. In addition to the presence of tractors and combines, transportation vehicles in the form of straight bed trucks, grain buggies and semis will be on the roadways. Once loaded, the crops make their way to a number of transportation options for storage, by truck, barge or train.
For me, slowing down for a tractor or combine to get to where it’s going isn’t frustrating. In fact, seeing these large pieces of equipment do their jobs often leaves me with a sense of awe. But while harvest does have its wonder, there is also danger.
Some 15,000 collisions involving farm vehicles occur on U.S. roadways each year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and while 19 percent of the population lives in rural areas, rural road accidents account for some 54 percent of all fatalities. So it’s important to slow down and give these larger, slower, heavier machines room. It is hard for them to stop quickly, and in the contest between a car and combine, there is no winner.
Farmers work long days during harvest, so practice patience as you travel Missouri roads this fall harvest season if you find yourself behind a farmer.