Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- Increased farm equipment traffic on roads in the Rochester area and statewide is prompting local officials to remind motorists on how to safely share the road with farmers during the harvest season. 

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During an interview on KROC-AM’s Rochester Today, MnDOT Southeast District Spokesman Mike Dougherty offered advice for safely sharing the road with area farmers, “Just paying that extra attention when you're zipping along, slowing down [and] following that speed limit,” Dougherty said. He also said most of the equipment has lights but the lights can be dimmed by dirt and dust kicked up during harvesting operations. 

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Dougherty said looking for tracks of mud coming out of fields and paying attention to farming activities in the area can also help drivers anticipate encountering a farm vehicle on the road. The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office also has safety tips for both motorists and farmers: 

Motorists

  • Slow down and use caution when approaching farm equipment. Don’t assume the equipment operator can see you.
  • Watch for debris dropped by farm equipment.
  • Wait for a safe place to pass.
  • Drive with headlights on.

Farm equipment operators

  • Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.
  • Use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph.
  • Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over when safe and let traffic pass.
  • Consider using a following vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.
  • Pick up any debris left on the highway by the equipment.

Related: Tractor Driver Killed in Minnesota Crash

Dougherty also says shorter days and increased wildlife movement are other reasons for motorists to stay aware of their surroundings while navigating the area’s rural highways. 

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