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Caution urged on roads during fall harvest

ST. PAUL -- Recent traffic accidents involving farm equipment, including one fatal crash, have prompted the Minnesota Department of Transportation to remind motorists to be aware of large farm equipment on the roads during harvest season.

"Harvest season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out using the highways," said Sue Groth, state traffic engineer. "Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads."

During 2008-2010, there were 433 traffic crashes on Minnesota roads involving at least one farm vehicle, resulting in 15 fatalities and 218 injuries.

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, she said.

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.