Ask a Trooper: Rules for signs in the right-of-way, and coasting downhill in neutralSend your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Ask a Trooper, c/o Duluth News Tribune, 424 W. First St., Duluth MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you wish.
Q: When I recently moved back to Minnesota I bought a big bad truck and a snow plow. I now have more friends than I ever knew! I plow for friends and family but I am not a professional, I do not charge for such. I get the occasional bakery treat for my work. My mom lives in rural St. Louis County on a gravel county road with a blind driveway both ways. There are no signs posted. Though I am always careful when at the end of her driveway, it’s always on my mind that I will get t-boned one of these days by someone driving too fast. May I post a temporary sign on her property? It would be in the shoulder right-of-way, stating “Caution Snow Removal in Progress” or something similar, and then I would take it down after I am done plowing. I fear that one day there will be a collision.
A: If it is in the right-of-way, no. If it is on private property away from the right-of-way, yes. Thanks for wanting to be safe! I don’t think a sign would be effective, and there are other things you can do. Have a vehicle parked on the shoulder before the driveway with flashers on, put up some emergency triangles behind that vehicle. Get a yellow flashing light for the top of your truck that you can put on when removing snow (which is legal for snow removal vehicles). Last of all, use caution when plowing snow. If at night, you can even put flares out before the driveway/work zone. Thanks again for wanting to be safe, and thanks for asking.
Q: I would like to know why coasting downhill in neutral is illegal. Thank you!
A: The law you are referring to is M.S.S. 169.39, which basically says, “The driver of any motor vehicle when traveling upon a downgrade shall not coast with the gears of such vehicle in neutral,” and, “The driver of a commercial motor vehicle when traveling upon a downgrade shall not coast with the clutch disengaged.” The reason we have this law is because coasting downhill is dangerous, and drivers were doing it and running into huge trouble. You run the risk of losing control because of the gain in speed during coasting combined with a mechanical failure could prove to be a fatal incident. The gears keep the vehicle speed from climbing so rapidly and they give the driver some control. Hence, we have another law!
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.