In Minnesota and North Dakota, anyone with a valid driver’s license can haul sugar beets in trucks that normally require a commercial driver’s license to operate, reports the Fargo Forum.
And rules that limit how long a driver can be behind the wheel before taking a rest are suspended in the interest of helping farmers move produce. Both states follow those rule suspensions which are allowed by federal law for beet harvests.
But there’ve been some recent crashes, and law enforcement officials wonder if the rules suspension is a good idea, the paper says.
“It always kind of baffled me,” said Sgt. Rick Fjestad of the Minnesota State Patrol, who in the past has worked as an over-the-road truck driver.
Fjestad said drivers inexperienced with large trucks may not be aware of how much extra time is required to stop a vehicle that may weigh more than 50,000 pounds when loaded with beets.
“It is a concern when they’re driving that big equipment,” Fjestad said.
Lt. Kyle Kirchmeier of the North Dakota Highway Patrol agreed, stating drivers may not understand how trucks behave differently from cars when it comes to things like the air brakes used in big trucks.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol investigated Tuesday’s crash in Wahpeton that killed 18-year-old Annie Gjesdal.
Gjesdal died after her car collided with a beet truck that ran a red light, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, which will forward the findings of its investigation to the Richland County states attorney’s office, which will review the case for possible charges.