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1-year-old, 2 adults killed in head-on crash after driver tries to pass car on 2-lane road

The driver was trying to pass another car on a rural two-lane highway.

The Essentials

1. A driver attempting to pass on a rural two-lane highway smashed head-on into a vehicle coming the other direction, killing herself, a 1-year-old passenger, and the driver of the other car.

2. The crash happened just after 5 p.m. Saturday on Highway 71, about a mile west of Morton in southwest Minnesota, the State Patrol says. Driver Shaunna Kraft, 34 years old, was headed north, with three others in the car – the toddler, a 7-year-old and a a 27-year-old. 

3. Kraft tried to pass another car while going over a bridge, but collided head-on with a vehicle driving south, according to the State Patrol. The driver of that car, 41-year-old Teresa Linde, also died. The other two passengers in Kraft's car (a 7-year-old and a 27-year-old) were taken to Twin Cities hospitals with life-threatening injuries.

The Big Picture

Minnesota's law for passing while on a two-lane highway boils down to: you can do it if it's safe. 

As a driver, you're allowed to cross the center line to pass someone only if the path is "clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic," with enough space to not put anyone in harm's way. 

The most specific the law gets is that you have to get back into the right-hand lane before you're within 100 feet of an oncoming vehicle. You're also only supposed to go 10 mph above the posted speed limit.

There are additional rules about not passing when your view in the distance is obstructed, when there are signs telling you not to, and if you're nearing certain features such as a tunnel.

Head-on crashes don't happen frequently, accounting for only 5 percent of the total number of wrecks, MnDOT has found.

But they are deadly, making up more than 18 percent of all fatal crashes. 

Passing isn't a very common cause however.

MnDOT looked at 251 fatal, head-on crashes from 2009-2013 and found that only seven of them – that's 2.8 percent – were a result of passing.

Someone drifting over the centerline was the cause of nearly two-thirds of those wrecks. 

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