Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

May 2, 2016

Orange barrels on a highway

Motorists, farm equipment operators share the road during spring planting season

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Motorists traveling on southeastern Minnesota highways this spring need to be aware of large farm equipment as spring field preparation and planting begin, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

“Farmers are preparing and planting the fields this spring and you’ll see them moving from field to field on the highways,” said Jeff Vlaminck, district engineer for MnDOT’s southeastern Minnesota District 6. “Motorists should be alert and aware that they may encounter 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.

The biggest factors contributing in farm equipment/vehicle crashes are inattention, speeding and unsafe passing.

During 2013-2015, 422 traffic crashes took place on Minnesota roads involving at least one farm vehicle, resulting in 12 fatalities and 204 injuries. Of the 12 fatalities, 8 were farm vehicle riders; of the 210 injuries, 57 were farm vehicle riders.

“When approaching farm equipment, motorists should always slow down and use extreme caution,” Vlaminck said.

Motorists should:

  • Watch for debris dropped by trucks. 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.

For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.

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To learn more about funding Minnesota’s transportation system, visit Get Connected at www.dot.state.mn.us/getconnected