Department of Crop Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Agronomy Day 2006

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Don’t Be A Roadway Hazard!

Bob Aherin Bob Aherin
Professor and Agricultural Safety
and Health Program Leader
Department of Agricultural
and Biological Engineering

Crashes involving farm equipment on roadways is a significant problem in Illinois. Since 1998 there has been a yearly average of 270 roadway crashes involving farm equipment. Farmers have the right to move their equipment on public roadways except for interstate highways. The driving public needs to be prepared to encounter farm equipment on roadways and be prepared to slow down quickly and pass farm equipment safely. Farm machinery operators need to do all they can to reduce their risk of experiencing a collision.

Many factors contribute to accidents with farm machinery on roadways, but history has proven that most are linked by a few specific ones. Most machinery is transported at relatively slow speeds often below 25 mph. Other motorists, who may be traveling at fairly high speeds, may miscalculate the distance needed to slow down while approaching a slow moving piece of machinery. Although infrastructure improvements in the last few decades have significantly improved the width and surface quality of rural roads, machinery has also continued to grow in size, and at times equipment can overlap the centerline of a road and create a hazard. As the average farm size has increased significantly in the past 20 years the travel time of farm equipment on roadways has also dramatically increased. Because farm machinery has unique qualities of slower speed and often large size it is imperative that operators drive defensively and the equipment is highly visible to other drivers.

The following are mandatory Illinois lighting and marking regulations for tractors and other self-propelled implements of husbandry or farm equipment:

There are also regulations for towed wagons and machinery, and other implements:

figure 1

This stop will review minimum lighting and marking requirements but will also illustrate what research has shown can be done to significantly enhance visibility of farm equipment beyond state laws and regulations. It has been found that the following new technology in retro-reflective markings can dramatically improve recognition of farm equipment width and improve side and front visibility for other motorist: