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MnDOT urges caution during harvest season

ST. PAUL - 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 said in a release.

ST. PAUL - 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 said in a release.

"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 the 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 2012-14, 414 traffic crashes took place on Minnesota roads involving at least one farm vehicle, resulting in 13 fatalities and 202 injuries. Of the 13 fatalities, eight were farm vehicle riders; of the 202 injuries, 48 were farm vehicle riders.

"The biggest factors contributing to farm equipment/vehicle crashes are inattention, unsafe passing and speed," Groth said. "Motorists should always slow down and use caution when approaching farm equipment."

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Motorists should:

• Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling sugar beets and other crops. 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 seatbelts.

• 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.

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

Related Topics: FARMING
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