by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Farmers from around New York attended an informative meeting addressing farm equipment and New York State updated traffic safety laws, during a clinic held at Al and Linda LaRue’s Farm Shop Facility in Charlton, Saratoga County.
Trooper Christine Bornmann of the New York State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit informed attendees about the use of farm tractors and implements and towing of farm wagons on New York State roads. Large farm truck information was also discussed.
Bornmann distributed a packet of vehicle and traffic regulations that effect all farm equipment.
“Last year, someone told me that they were told that they had to register their hay wagons or they were going to get ticketed,” Bornmann said. “Well, I found the regulation that says all of your implements are exempt.”
Bornmann pointed out sections of the regulation #100-d that explains the definition of agricultural equipment and #125 where it specifically states that farm tractors, farm equipment and ATVs used exclusively for agricultural purposes or snow plowing — other than for hire — and all of your implements of husbandry, are exempt. This does not include pickup trucks or any other large trucks used on the road.
“So, if someone tells you that you have to do it, take your ticket, go to court, show the court the definition of the motor vehicle and they’ll throw it out. It’s better than arguing with the police officer.”
Bornmann stated that no agricultural equipment is allowed to drive on highways qualified as an interstate or federal-aid primary system highway.
It was also noted there should be no texting or talking on cell phones when operating farm tractors or equipment on any road or highway.
NYS Vehicle and Traffic Laws say that all horse trailers and cattle trailers used by residents of New York State must be registered with residency in New York State. Any livestock trailer with Maine plates that are being used by New York State residents will be ticketed. Only semitrailers are exempt from this law.
It was also noted that a “Farm – Class B” license is required to operate a single vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds. A “Farm – Class A” license is required to operate a “combination vehicle over 26,000 pounds.”
Advertisements posted on your pick-up truck, regardless of whether it is painted on or attached by magnetic signs, whether it is a 4,000-lb. pick-up or a 12,000-lb. pick-up, require commercial plates. “You cannot have passenger plates on it!”
Anything over 10,000 pounds has to have DOT numbers on it. “If it’s over 10,000 pounds, in other words 10,001 pounds, either a single unit or a combination unit, you have to have DOT numbers on it.”
One DOT number may be used by all of the trucks in your fleet. It must be posted on both sides of the vehicle and must be in contrasting colors, visible from 50 feet away, or you may be ticketed. “That’s a $150 ticket,” Bornmann confirmed, while reminding folks that if the number is obscured, whether by snow or cow manure, it should be cleaned off and kept visible.
Farmers have exemptions for up to 12-feet-wide for farm tractors and implements, unless otherwise directed by DOT on a specific road. Restrictions are in place for anything wider than 12-feet. Anything over 17-feet requires a special permit.
Flags, escorts and reflective signs are recommended depending on road and weather conditions and slow moving vehicle reflective triangles are mandatory.
Common courtesy is also recommended when driving a large, slow moving Ag vehicle on the road. Pulling to the side of the road to allow other free flowing traffic to pass keeps the public opinion of farmers in good standing. However, Trooper Bornmann cautions against waving other vehicles past you, since if an accident ensues due to your gesturing, you can be held liable. Instead, Bornmann recommends simply pulling to the side of the road as far as safely possible and stopping.
Remember that when you are on the road with farm equipment and a vehicle coming from the opposite direction hits you because you are in their lane, you are responsible for any and all damages. If you need to stop or direct traffic, wear a reflective vest and use an appropriate flag.
Hayracks have a maximum width of 10 feet at the top and hay bales, including round bales must be properly secured when in transport. Safety chains must be crossed and must not be out of service due to wear on the links.
Bornmann stresses farm equipment is not exempt from weight regulations.
A single axle vehicle may not exceed 22,400 pounds. Dual axle maximum weight may not exceed 36,000 pounds. Three axle vehicles are accessed by weight per axle.
All loads of loose material transported by farm vehicles must be completely covered according to federal law and farmers are responsible for cleaning up any material that spills onto the road and any mud or manure that is carried onto the road from the farm or field.
It is important to realize that farm exemptions do not apply to any equipment that can be considered as construction equipment.
“If it says Caterpillar, if I can classify it as construction equipment, you are no longer exempt! You have to have permits, because that is not a farm implement. I know you’re using it on your farm, but you have to have permits. If you do have a loader, or anything like that, and you drive down the road, make sure you have commercial plates on it!”
You cannot legally use a farm plate or an Ag plate on construction equipment.
“With the cropping season upon us, this program helps farmers to comply with the New York State traffic laws and also helps farmers, their families and their employees to be safe this crop season,” commented CNY CCE Dairy Specialist Dave Balbian.
“The accident that you prevent by being safe on the highway is the one you would have been involved in,” agreed Saratoga County CCE Resource Educator Richard Smith, coordinator of the event.
For more information, contact the NYS Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit at 518-783-3262
NYS Police host clinic for farm equipment usage on New York State roads
by Elizabeth A. Tomlin