Maryland Farm Vehicle and Auto Accident Prevention: Do State Regulations Go Far Enough?

A national study on the safety hazards of farm equipment driving on public roads reveals what experienced Baltimore County, Maryland injury attorneys know very well:

Urban drivers sharing narrow, winding back roads with slow-moving tractors, combines, and other agricultural vehicles can be a dangerous, deadly combination.

It’s a serious driving safety problem in rural Maryland counties (such as Carroll County and Harford County) and other farming communities across the U.S. More and more urban commuters are moving to the country — bringing more cars, more traffic, and more hurried driving with them. At the same time, state laws written in the early 20th century have not kept pace with the capabilities of modern farm equipment, passenger cars, nor changes in U.S. driving habits.

A report featured in the National Agricultural Safety Database (NASD) documents the problems associated with farm equipment and motor vehicle accidents on public roads and highways, which include the following:

  • State vehicle codes regarding the lighting and marking of agricultural equipment on the roadways may vary from state to state (e.g., Maryland requires 2 headlights on tractors and self-propelled agricultural vehicles, where Delaware and Ohio only require 1).
  • Tractors used to chug along at 25 mph or slower; newer tractors can reach speeds of up to 45 mph.
  • States are inconsistent in how they handle young operators of agricultural equipment on public roads.
  • State regulations do not always embrace the national Uniform Vehicle Code guidelines related to farm equipment lighting, marking, and operation on roadways and highways.

The study authors recommend additional research into the complex problem of car accidents involving farm vehicles. In addition, they suggest ways to modernize related farm equipment roadway operation regulations and policies, as well as beef up law enforcement and driver safety education and awareness programs — to make our nation’s back roads safer for both agricultural vehicles and automobile drivers. (Related issue in the U.S. and here in Maryland: auto accidents with farm livestock in the roadways.)


Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads
Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension. USDA-CSREES, Washington, DC, 2009
Section 3.0: Federal and State Regulations

Section 6.0: Suggestions for the Future

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Blog Articles:

Car Accidents with Farm Equipment on Public Roads in Maryland

Maryland Car Accidents with Livestock and Other Animals in the Road

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