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Trooper answers your trailer, license questions

Question: I have been seeing many tractor trailer rigs where, under the trailer, there is a skirt that I am assuming is for less drag. I have also seen maybe a half a dozen trailers that have an extension off the back of the trailer that I believe is also for increased aerodynamics.

Are these extensions allowed even if they cause the overall length of the tractor trailer rig to exceed the state maximum length?

Answer: Very good question and I checked with the Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Section and here is what I learned.

The air deflectors under the trailers are allowed; however, Minnesota State Statute 169.81 addresses length of trailers and specifically references non-cargo carrying equipment adjacent to the truck tractor used for safe and efficient operation as being allowed.

In other words, refrigeration units and air deflectors mounted on the front of semi-trailers is allowed without regard to maximum trailer length. Technically, by State Statute, a 53 foot trailer would not be a legal trailer in Minnesota with these rear deflectors mounted.

Possibly, a 48 foot trailer could have them installed, as long as it was at or under the 53 foot maximum semi-trailer length law.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Class D driver’s license questions

Recently I received my renewed Class D driver’s license and I have questions on the restrictions.

Question 1: Daylight Driving: What are the hours for daylight driving? Sunrise to sunset or half-hour before sunrise and half-hour after sunset?

Answer 1: According to Minnesota State Statute, “daytime” is from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Question 2: 50 MPH MAX: Isn’t driving 50 mph on the highway hazardous? What can I do to make it safer? Use flashers? Signal and pull off the road (onto the shoulder) and stop to allow vehicles backed up behind me to pass? Pump my brake when I see another vehicle coming up fast behind me?

Answer 2: I believe 50 mph can be a reasonable and safe speed for the motoring public overall. But with the speed limit increasing from 55 mph to 60 mph on some roads and other highways already at 65 mph and 70 mph, we need to realize how fast we can come upon someone traveling slower.

This is another reason why driver attention is so important. All you can do is drive your own vehicle and concentrate on what you can do.

Flashers: I would say at 50 mph, probably not. The purpose of flashers is warn other drivers of a vehicular traffic hazard and to exercise care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.

Signaling and pulling over: I would recommend doing that If you notice that you are starting to impede traffic and can find a legal and safe place to pull over.

Pumping brakes: By lightly tapping the brake and without slowing down may be an option to help get the attention of a vehicle approaching at a faster speed from behind. Unnecessary applying of the brakes and slowing down too quickly could cause a crash and you could be held responsible.

The most dangerous thing we do every day is get in our cars and drive. Roadway crashes are the single largest cause of injury and death in Minnesota and of work-related deaths. Reduce your risk through driver training and community traffic safety programs and resources. Always use some good common sense; pay attention and buckle up!

If you have any questions, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.