Ask a Trooper: What are rules for large farm equipment?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question: I followed a tractor that had triple wheels on each side and took up half the lane of oncoming traffic. Following vehicles could not pass and oncoming traffic had to take the shoulder.

Troy Christianson

Answer: Farm equipment may be driven or towed to the left of the center of a roadway only if it is escorted at the front by a vehicle displaying hazard warning lights visible in normal sunlight. The equipment also must not extend into the left half of the roadway more than is necessary.

Some of those combine headers are quite big. So if someone is not being escorted, they would be required to remove the header and tow it on the highway.

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

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

Motorists should:

• Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling 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 seat 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.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848; or reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.