Dear Trooper Kathy: Are there ANY rules for farmers? They take up the whole roadway and I have yet to see them with lights on. I just about ran into one last night. He didn't have any reflectors or lights on and it was right after sunset!
Trooper Kathy Says: PATIENCE, PATIENCE, and PATIENCE! Try to remember they are only in the fields and on the roads for a short period of time. I have some tips for you as well as for the farmers.
Truck traffic increases significantly during the harvest season, both in terms of volume and the number of hours each day trucks and other farm-related vehicles are on the road.
The leading contributing crash factors in farm vehicle crashes are inattention, speeding and unsafe passing. Drivers are urged to stay alert, give farm equipment operators extra room during harvest.
Use extra caution on state highways now that farmers are shipping their crops to markets, grain elevators and processing plants.
Motorists need to be prepared for slow-moving farm vehicles. Watch for tractors pulling wagons at slow speeds, as well as combines and other wide equipment that may go over the center line.
Farm vehicles such as combines and other wide equipment may go over the center line. They are generally very large, so motorists need to give them extra space and use caution when attempting to pass.
Motorists should also watch for fallen debris from farm-related vehicles and remember that it is safer to brake or drive through the debris rather than veer into oncoming traffic or off the road.
Drivers are urged to:
Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling sugar beets and other crops.
Use safety belts.
Drive with headlights on at all times.
Observe posted speed limits and traffic signs.
From 2006-2008, there were 434 crashes that involved a farm vehicle, resulting in nine fatalities and 26 serious injuries, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety. In 2008 alone, farm-related vehicles were involved in 127 crashes. Of those crashes, two resulted in fatalities, 43 in injuries and 82 in property damage.
If you have any questions regarding traffic safety and/or traffic laws, please e-mail her at kathy.pederson @state.mn.us. Sgt. Pederson will not offer advice on specific situations or real events, which involve law enforcement.