Farm vehicles, including tractors, combines and numerous other large machines, are not the same as traditional motor vehicles. Their design prioritizes efficiency in the fields rather than safe travels on the road.
Some of the most catastrophic collisions that occur each year involve passenger vehicles striking farm equipment on public roads. There are numerous factors – including the three noted below – that may contribute to the likelihood of a car-tractor collision, many of which farm owners and the farm workers they employ can (and should) proactively address.
Those operating farm equipment don’t necessarily have to have a driver’s license. After all, estimates indicate that farm vehicles spend less than 5% of their operational time on public roads. Therefore, farm owners hiring professionals to work their land often don’t check if those workers have a driver’s license. Unfortunately, someone without a license might not truly understand the rules of the road and might do something very unsafe while operating a farm vehicle on public roads. They might also end up confused if they have a license from another state and are not familiar with local regulations.
Major speed discrepancies
Farm vehicles usually travel at relatively low rates of speed despite often having very large wheels and powerful engines. The significant difference in speed between the average passenger vehicle in a farm vehicle on a rural road is a recipe for disaster, especially if someone comes around a blind corner or over a hill to encounter a farm vehicle on public roads.
A lack of proper lighting
Technically, farm vehicles and any trailers that they haul should have appropriate lights installed so that they can communicate effectively with others in traffic. Unfortunately, many farmers don’t make me investment in installing or maintaining those systems on their vehicles and trailers. Older tractors may not have lights, and homemade trailers often do not have them either. They will not be visible when on the road at night or when on the road during transitional times of day. Other drivers may then overtake them without realizing that a crash is about to occur.
Although many motorists feel like they are likely to blame for a crash with a tractor or other farm vehicle, that is not always the case. Learning more about how farm vehicles can cause collisions might help someone hold the right party accountable for a recent wreck.