Three recent beet truck crashes in Minnesota and North Dakota have left two dead and three hurt, raising questions about exempting farmers from the CDL regulations that other truck drivers must follow.
The first crash took place on October 5 north of Felton. An empty farm truck that had been hauling beets was hit by a pickup truck that crossed into its lane. The two men in the pickup were killed. The farm truck driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but police say that the beet truck driver did attempt to take evasive action.
The second crash occurred the next day when a loaded beet truck tried to make a turn and failed, causing the truck to roll. The driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The beet truck driver did not have a CDL.
The latest crash took place on October 8 near Thompson, North Dakota. A beet truck driver failed to slow when making the turn into the stockpile yard. The truck and trailer tipped over. The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. She was cited for care required.
Beet harvest season causes a dramatic increase in truck traffic. Some receiving sites will take in 50,000 truckloads of beets every day.
In North Dakota and Minnesota, a standard drivers license is that is required to haul beets so long as the driver is only transporting them 150 miles — no matter how much experience the driver has.
Farmers say that it would be impossible to find enough drivers with CDLs in time to make the shipments. They also claim that having a CDL would not necessarily prevent crashes.