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MnDOT asks motorists, farm equipment operators to share the road

BAXTER — Motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this fall need to be aware of large farm equipment transporting crops to markets, grain elevators and processing plants, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported. 

This warning comes following two recent crashes, including one fatal crash, involving farm equipment, MnDOT said.

“Harvest season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out using the highways,” Sue Groth, state traffic engineer, said in a news release. “Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads.”

Farm equipment is large and heavy, making it hard for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop. The machines also make wide turns and sometimes cross over the center line. In addition, farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles. All of these factors can cause serious crashes.

During 2008-2010, there were 433 traffic crashes on Minnesota roads involving at least one farm vehicle, resulting in 15 fatalities and 218 injuries. Of the 15 fatalities, five were farm vehicle riders; of the 218 injuries, 65 were farm vehicle riders, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Motorists are also urged to:

• Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling sugar beets and other crops and remember, it is safer to brake or drive through debris than to veer into oncoming cars or off the road. 

• Wait for a safe place to pass.

• Wear safety belts.

• Drive with headlights on at all times.

Farm equipment operators should:

• Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible. 

• Use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph. 

• Consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.