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Motorists, farm equipment operators asked to safely share the roadways

Motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this spring should be aware of large farm equipment moving from farm to farm, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“Planting season is ramping up across Minnesota, and farmers need the highways to access their fields,” said Brian Sorenson, state traffic engineer, in a news release. “Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads.”

According to the last five years of data from 2016 to 2020, there were 532 crashes reported involving farm equipment in Minnesota resulting in 242 injuries and 11 deaths. The 2020 data is preliminary. Inattentive driving and speed were the biggest contributing factors in these crashes.

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 crosses over the center line. In addition, farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles.

Motorists should:

Slow down when approaching farm equipment, then navigate with care and 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

Be patient and wait for a safe place to pass

Wear seatbelts and minimize distractions

Minimize distractions behind the wheel.

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

For traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit MnDOT’s road conditions map or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.