MnDOT asks motorists and farmers to share the road

MnDOT asks motorists, farm equipment operators to safely share the road during planting season

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this spring need to be aware of large farm equipment moving from farm to farm, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“Planting season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out on the highways,” said Ray Starr, acting state traffic engineer. “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 equipment also makes 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.

Over the past five years, there were 688 crashes involving farm vehicles that resulted in 23 fatalities and 348 injuries. Nearly half of the fatalities were an occupant of the farm vehicle.

Twenty-two percent of all farm equipment crashes and 29 percent of the fatalities were distraction-related. Other factors were speed-related and alcohol-related.

Motorists should:

· When approaching farm equipment, slow down and use caution.

· Watch for debris dropped by trucks. 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.

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