Harvest is gearing up across Minnesota and officials are urging motorists to use caution around large farm equipment that’s transporting crops to grain elevators and processing plants. MN-DOT’s Kevin Gutknecht says, “Over the last couple of years, more 400 traffic crashes took place involving farm vehicles, and it resulted in a dozen fatalities and more than 200 injuries.” Gutknecht notes farm equipment makes wide turns and can sometimes cross over the center line. Farm equipment can also create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles.
Gutknecht says most rural roads are two-lane, some in areas where passing can be difficult. “Folks need to really approach those vehicles, those slow-moving vehicle signs on the back, that orange triangle, and slow down and take their time and pay attention,” he says. Officials say the biggest factors contributing to crashes with farm equipment are inattention, unsafe passing and speed.
More harvest-time tips from MN-DOT:
- Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling sugar beets and other 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 seatbelts.
- 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.
Hear the complete interview with Gutknecht here: