Tricounty News

Are farmers exempt from speed limit laws?

Dear Trooper Kathy: Are farmers exempt from speed limit laws? I thought you could get a ticket for driving too slow. Can farmers drive on the highway? Aren't they supposed to drive on the shoulder?

Trooper Kathy says: WHOA! Slow down! Here are your answers.

There is a law about impeding traffic Ð FARMERS ARE NOT EXEMPT. If the motorist driving down the road is travelling less than the speed limit, he MUST give the vehicle(s) following, an opportunity to pass him. If there is oncoming traffic or you are traveling in a no-passing zone, there is no opportunity for them to pass. At this time, they must pull to the right and (by law) STOP to let the traffic go by. We do not allow for vehicles to drive down the shoulder of the road in Minnesota. I know it gets frustrating but try to be patient.

MN State Patrol asks motorists and farm equipment operators to safely share the road during harvest season.

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

"Record harvests are being predicted this year," said Lt. Sean Meagher from the St. Cloud District State Patrol, "This means farmers will be making more trips than usual. Motorists need to be prepared to encounter these slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads." 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.

In 2009, there were 151 crashes on Minnesota roads involving farm vehicles, resulting in nine fatalities and 78 injuries; seven of the injuries were serious.

"The leading contributing crash factors in farm equipment/

vehicle crashes are inattention, speeding and unsafe passing," said

Lt. Meagher. "When approaching farm equipment, motorists should slow down and use extreme caution."

Motorists should:

¥ Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling crops and remember, 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 safety 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.

If you have any questions regarding traffic safety and/or traffic laws, please e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Sgt. Pederson will not offer advice on specific situations or real events which involve law enforcement.