Watch for farm equipment

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is advising motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this fall to be aware of farm equipment transporting crops to markets, grain elevators and plants during the harvest season.

“Harvest season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out using the highways,” said Sue Groth, state traffic engineer, 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 release states. The machines 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.

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From 2010-12, 377 traffic crashes took place on Minnesota roads involving at least one farm vehicle, resulting in 13 fatalities and 211 injuries. Of the 13 fatalities, six were farm vehicle riders; of the 211 injuries, 53 were farm vehicle riders.

“The biggest factors contributing to farm equipment and vehicle crashes are inattention, speeding and unsafe passing,” Groth said. “When approaching farm equipment, motorists should always slow down and use extreme caution.”

The release gave the following tips for motorists:

• 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 seat belts.

• Drive with headlights on.

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 and consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.