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Watch out for anhydrous

Rick Marsh, a salesman for Southwest Grain, services anhydrous tanks Wednesday near an intersection in southwest Dickinson. Area officials are reminding drivers to slow down as more farmers haul the hazardous cargo around busy roads.

Officials say area farmers are transporting hazardous cargo this time of year, and motorists need to be extra cautious.

Not only are there more trucks using area roads as part of an ongoing oil boom, but farmers are now starting to transport anhydrous tanks, which is why drivers need to ease off the gas pedal, Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew said.

"We have bombs driving up and down the roads," Brew said. "It's not to tell the farmers to be careful; it's to tell the people on the roadways to be careful."

Brew also said many people are in a hurry to reach their destinations and fail to acknowledge the danger of passing anhydrous tanks or approaching farmers too fast. There are times when anhydrous will be transported at the same time a rig is being moved, she added.

"It's just busier, and we need to be patient, she said.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Haugen agrees. He said vehicles pulling anhydrous are allowed to go 25 miles per hour, and approaching drivers need to slow down.

"It does make us nervous that we could have some rear-end collisions, but hopefully we don't," Haugen said. "When you see (anhydrous trailers) on the horizon, you should start slowing down because you're going to come up to them very fast."

Additionally, Brew thinks too many drivers are passing farm equipment when they should not.

"We have to change our ways a little bit," she said.

But all drivers are expected to play their part. Haugen said safety is a two-way street, and farmers will get slapped with a $250 fine if they get caught driving too fast while pulling anhydrous.

Rick Marsh, a salesman for Southwest Grain, was servicing anhydrous tanks in southwest Dickinson on Wednesday. He said more anhydrous is being transported because of the spring planting season.

Anhydrous can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. It can lead to frostbite and skin burns. Also, it sometimes leads to wheezing, chest pain and death by pulmonary edema, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While it may be inconvenient for people to slow down, Brew said it is better to be safe than sorry.

"Leave 10 minutes earlier, and plan to slowly drink your cup of coffee on the way to work," she said. "You have to assume you're not going to get there as quick as you want to."