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Alabama Farm Equipment Road Hazards Climb With Harvest Season

Aug 18, 2013 - Birmingham, Personal Injury by

A recent scene on I-65 in Birmingham, just south of Chilton County Road 59 caused traffic to grind to a halt, as a trailer hauling some 20 cows overturned.

It was nearly three hours before officials could get things moving again.
Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys understand that farm equipment traveling on the roadways can create a dangerous condition.

Although thankfully no one was seriously hurt in this most recent incident, 2007 study published in the Journal of Rural Health revealed that there are a number of factors that contribute to increased injuries and fatalities when crashes involve farm equipment.

We know that rural roads tend to have higher injury rates than urban and suburban roadways. Researchers examined crashes involving drivers of farm equipment and vehicles versus non-farming equipment and vehicles in Iowa between 1995 and 2004. While non-farm vehicles were more likely to crash than vehicles towing farm equipment or goods, that was primarily due to the fact that farm vehicles traveled at slower speeds. Factors that contributed to serious crashes included reckless high speeds, unsafe passing and overloading of vehicles.

A more recent article, written by Assistant Professor Dee Jepson at the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Science at The Ohio State University, revealed that one of the main contributing factors in serious crashes involving farm equipment is that agricultural vehicles may not be marked in such a way that visibility is clear.

Some of the ways Jepson recommended that farmers improve their road safety included:

  • Make sure the tractor has two headlights, at least one tail lamp mounted on the left side facing the rear, at least two amber warning lights visible form the front and rear, at least two red reflectors, amber warning extremity lights and the Speed Identification Symbol on high-speed tractors and other equipment.
  • Watch for potholes or other obstacles that could tip the tractor.
  • Listen for other vehicles, which often rapidly approach from the rear at speeds of three to five times what the tractor is traveling.
  • Stay alert at all times. This means avoiding cell phone use and two-way radios, as well as avoiding groggy driving.
  • Keep a vigilant lookout for pedestrians, mailboxes, steep ditch embankments, animals and other possible roadway hazards.
  • Slow down considerably when going down hill or around sharp curves.
  • Consider having an escort vehicle travel behind.
  • If possible, avoid the roads during high-traffic times, usually mornings and late afternoons.

Other motorists should recognize that some farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads, as does any other motor vehicle. Understand that such equipment can sometimes unexpectedly turn or stop and the driver of the machinery may not be able to see you clearly, if at all. Anytime you are considering passing such a vehicle, make sure the vehicle isn’t about to make a left turn and triple check to make sure the road is wide enough for you both to share. Keep an eye out for mailboxes, bridges or roadsigns that may cause the farm machinery driver to move closer to the center as you are trying to pass.

Additional Resources:

Overturned cow trailer, multiple car accidents bring Birmingham’s interstates to near-standstill, Aug. 11, 2013, By Ana Rodriguez,

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