MnDOT reminds drivers to safely share the road during planting season

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(ABC 6 News) – With planting season ongoing, it’s important to remember to drive carefully when in rural areas.

Farmers are expected to be out in the fields most of the day. Around sunrise and sunset will be the hardest time to navigate.

Since 2020, there were 391 crashes involving farm equipment in Minnesota, resulting in six deaths and 143 injuries. Inattentive driving and speed were the biggest contributing factors in those crashes.

Farm equipment is large and heavy, making it hard for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop. The equipment also makes wide turns and sometimes crosses over the center line. In addition, farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles.

Any farming vehicle driving slower is required to display they are traveling at 30 miles per hour or less. MnDOT Spokesman Mike Dougherty explains what to look for on farming vehicles. “Essentially that orange triangle and then a lot of them have lights, and they’ll put them on like flashers.”

Farmers are asked to make sure their lights are clean of any dirt or debris so drivers are able to clearly see signals.

This is critical in moments when a farm vehicle is turning from the road or the vehicle is taking up part of the roadway due to its size.

Rain and gusty winds can also play a role. Dougherty tells why. “Anything that’s got a higher profile, depending on the wind speed, is going to have some movement to it. If you’re a motorist coming up at highway speed to something slower, it’s going to take longer to slow down because the roads are wet.”

Dougherty also notes most farm vehicles, if traveling on roads, typically only commute a short distance whether they are heading home or to a field.

Expect plenty of farming vehicles to be out with a slower planting season in 2023.