Ask A Trooper: Can hay bales be pulled on state highways?

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

By Sgt. Troy Christianson

Question: Is it legal for farmers to load hay on a state highway? Our neighbor bales several miles of state highway ditches. To load the round bales he drives down the highway with a pickup and bale wagon. His son is in the ditch with a tractor and loader. The son gets a bale on the loader and driving perpendicular to the road drives up the ditch and puts the bale on the bale wagon. The son with the loader stops with his front wheels on the shoulder of the road and puts the bale on the trailer.  The bale wagon is stopped on the state highway in the lane of traffic so the bale can be loaded. Is this legal?

Answer: This would not be safe or legal. The loading would need to take place off the highway. With harvest season upon us, this is a great time to for everyone to remember when sharing the road:

What drivers should know about farm vehicles on the road:

• Farm equipment is large and heavy, making it hard for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop.

• The equipment makes wide turns and sometimes crosses over the center line.

• Farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles.

Safety guidance for motorists:

• Pay attention at all times when driving.

• Watch for debris dropped by trucks. It is safer to brake or slowly drive through debris than to veer into oncoming cars or off the road.

• When approaching farm equipment, slow down and use caution. Put additional space between your vehicle and the farm equipment ahead. Don’t assume the equipment operator can see you.

• Be patient and wait for a safe place to pass.

• Wear seatbelts.

• Drive with headlights on.

Safety guidance for farm equipment operators:

• Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.

• Use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph.

• Drive slow-moving vehicles in the right-hand lane as close to the edge of the roadway as possible.

• Consider using an escort vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night and if the equipment is large enough that it may extend across the center line.

• Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over when safe, and let traffic pass.

• Pick up any debris left on the highway by the equipment or contact MnDOT to remove it.

• Plan your routes so wide equipment will not hit or damage signs, guardrails, light poles and other roadway structures.

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 Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at, Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us)