Keeping the roads safe during fall harvest season

Published 6:04 am Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Motorists should take care around large farm equipment

Fall harvest season is underway in Minnesota and motorists are likely to see large farm equipment on Minnesota roads as crops are transported to markets, grain elevators and processing plants.

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“Motorists need to be especially alert when they share the road with farm equipment that is frequently so large and heavy that accelerating, slowing down and stopping take more time and space than other vehicles,” said Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol.

These vehicles also have large blind spots for operators and cause them to make wide turns and sometimes cross over the centerline. All these factors can and do result in serious crashes.

Motorists are urged to:

  • Slow down and use caution when approaching farm equipment. Don’t assume the operator can see you.
  • Watch for debris dropped by trucks. It’s safer to brake or drive through debris than to veer into oncoming cars or off the road.
  • Wait for a safe place to pass.

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.
  • Properly secure your load.
  • Ensure all lights are clean and fully visible.
  • Ensure all safety equipment, including brakes and tires, are well maintained.

Motorists and equipment operators alike should understand there may be mud and debris on the road and drive accordingly.

Between 2016 and 2018, there were 385 crashes involving farm vehicles resulting in seven fatalities and 154 injuries in Minnesota. As farmers and large equipment operators work to get sugar beets, corn, soybeans and other products to market, everyone can play their part to make the roads safer.