2017 September Sheriff Column 25 Sep 17

2017 September Sheriff Column – Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann

With the end of summer and the start of the new school year, I would like to refresh everyone’s memory with several things to be aware of regarding school safety. Make sure your child knows the most direct route to walk to school or the bus stop. Go over the route with them, identifying safe houses (those belonging to friends or relatives) along the way. Make sure that they understand that they can go to these houses if they are having trouble of any kind. It is always best to plan ahead for un-foreseen emergencies.

If your child is of driving age, they need to be especially vigilant in school zones where there are many younger children who may not be paying attention to motorists. Many accidents are caused by drivers trying to do other things while they are driving: eating, drinking, changing stations on the radio, talking on their cell phones or trying to retrieve dropped items. It is always a good idea that while driving, to just drive. All of the other activities can wait until you are stopped.
As the weather begins to change and windows are frosty in the morning, please take the time to completely scrape all of the windows on your vehicle. Vehicle windows are designed to provide maximum visibility for the driver. The extra minute you spend preparing to drive can prevent an accident while driving.

Always be on the lookout for school buses and be prepared to stop when the driver activates the yellow flashing lights prior to stopping or the red lights that are activated when the stop arm is extended. You must come to a complete stop at least twenty feet away from the bus and wait to proceed until the stop arm is brought back in and the red lights are off. A conviction for violating school bus stop arm laws is a misdemeanor and the fine is $300.00.

All drivers will notice the increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Pedestrians in properly marked crosswalks have the right of way. Vehicles must stop and let them pass until they are safely on the sidewalk.

The harvest season is fast approaching us and there will be many farm implements out on the road. It would be prudent at this time to go over a few safety issues regarding these implements. Minnesota statute 160.522 requires that farm machinery/implements of husbandry that are designated for use at a speed of 30 miles per hour or less, must display a triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem. The emblem must consist of a fluorescent or illuminated red-orange triangle with a dark red reflective border and must be mounted so it is visible from more than 600 feet to the rear.
If towing another piece of equipment, both pieces should have a slow-moving vehicle emblem. However, the law does state that if the slow-moving vehicle emblem on the primary/towing unit is visible from more than 600 feet to the rear and is clearly visible even when another unit is being towed, it is not necessary to display an emblem on the secondary unit.

After dark and at other times when lights on vehicles are required (such as when it is raining or snowing), every self-propelled implement must be equipped with at least one lamp displaying a white light to the front and at least one lamp displaying a red light to the rear. Every self-propelled implement must also display two red reflectors visible to the rear.
While it is every farmer’s responsibility to make sure their equipment is safe to drive on public roadways, it is also every driver’s responsibility to be aware of slow-moving vehicles around them. When driving, always be mindful of your surroundings, and make sure there are no slow-moving vehicles on the road or about to enter the roadway. Also be aware that machinery in the fields can create dust and that all animals that had been hiding in the fields are now moving out onto the roadways. If you see a cornfield being harvested, there are most likely deer in the area that have been scared out of the field.

If you come up behind slow-moving vehicles, please do not be in a rush to pass them! Make sure you pass in a legal area in a safe manner, and also please make sure they are not about to make a left turn into a field approach just as you are about to pass. As I have mentioned in previous columns, traveling at faster speeds really only saves you a few seconds, so please be patient and let the farmers get to where they are going.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Rich Hoffmann
Brown County Sheriff