Pennsylvania transportation: Law changes may save farmers grief when moving from farm to farm

HARRISBURG, Pa. — It’s official. Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill changing the Pennsylvania vehicle code that exempts certain farm practices, but also includes additional safety requirements for farm equipment on the roads.

The bills were passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly last fall, but just signed by Corbett into law effective Feb. 22.

The changes in law will affect the transportation of farm implements and exempt farm trucks, trailers, and multipurpose agricultural vehicles from registration.

Implements are now allowed by law to operate anywhere within 50 miles of any farm owned or operated by the owner of the implement. They are also exempt from registration.

Before the law was changed, implements could be operated only on roads that adjoined and could not be more than 25 miles apart.

Another change in law regards farm implements that are extra wide. The limit has increased from 8 feet to 14 feet, six inches.

Implements

Implements may be driven, hauled, towed or operated on roads other than freeways within 50 miles of a farm owned or operated by the owner of the farm implement. Authorized uses will include travel between farms of the implement owner, but also those between the implement owner’s farm and an agribusiness center  and those between the implement owner’s farm and another’s farm located within 50 miles.

Nighttime use

However, during nighttime use, there are additional requirements. The implement must have at least one yellow revolving, flashing or strobe light visible to drivers from any direction.

The implement also has to have operational hazard signal lights.

Wider implements

The legislature and governor also included a special width allowance for farm use for implements between 14 feet, 6 inches, to 16 feet.

The implements may be driven, hauled or towed on roads other than freeways in the same areas and manner as for daytime use of implements 14 feet, 6 inches, and less in width.

‘Oversized vehicle’ sign

However, there are some additional requirements for anything over 14 feet 6 inches. The implement owner has to have liability insurance coverage on the implement normally required for other vehicles (coverage under the owner’s general farm liability policy will meet this requirement).

The implement has to have, and operate, at least one yellow revolving, flashing or strobe light visible to drivers from any direction.

The implement has and operates signal lights.

And a pilot vehicle is required to escort the implement in front and this pilot vehicle must display an “oversize vehicle” sign on the front of the vehicle and has and operates hazard signal lamps.

Night restrictions

Once nighttime hits, the wider implements are limited to travel within 25 miles of the farm owned by the implement owner.

Again, liability insurance and lights are required for nighttime transportation of the extra wide implements.

The lights must include at least one yellow revolving, flashing or strobe light visible to drivers from any direction and the implement must operate hazard signal lights. In addition, the implement must have reflective edge marks or lights to identify the outermost edges of the rear and front.

In addition, implements that are over the 14 feet wide 6 inches mark must not be operated at speeds over 25 mph and the driver of the implement or vehicle pulling the implement must be at least 18.

For nighttime travel, the escort vehicle must now be at the rear of the implement, display an “oversize vehicle” sign on the rear of the vehicle, and use hazard flashers.

Registration

Another big change in Pennsylvania’s transportation law concerns farm trucks with biennial registration exemptions.

There are four types that will be exempt:
• Type A, for trucks with a rating of 10,000 pounds or less: no periodic inspection required.
• Type B, for trucks with a rating of 10,001 to 17,000 pounds: no periodic inspection required.
• Type C, for trucks with a rating of greater than 17,000 pounds- no periodic inspection required.
• Type D, for trucks with a rating greater than 17,000 pounds: an annual inspection is required.

10,000 pounds

There are also new laws regarding farm vehicles with 10,000 pounds or less weight rating. They are exempt from inspection and registration, but have limited times of operation, distance and must have an agriculture purpose.

These trucks can only be operated during daytime hours, and must be operated on roads that adjoin farms owned by the owner of the vehicle and can only be driven 50 miles between the farms.

They can also be driven between one farm of the vehicle owner and a place of business not more than 50 miles away for the purpose of buying ag supplies or selling ag supplies.

The farm vehicles can also be driven between the farm and a place of business not more than 50 miles away for purpose of servicing or repairing the farm vehicle or trailer towed by the farm vehicle.

It is clearly stated in the new legislation that the use of the farm vehicle is not authorized unless it is being used in one of the above situations.

10-17,000 pounds

The legislation also includes exemptions for farm vehicles with weight ratings between 10,000 and 17,000 pounds but has authorized times of use, distance and purposes.

They include that the vehicle must be operated only during the daytime hours and they must driven on roads that adjoin farms owned by the owner of the vehicle and not more than 25 miles apart. They can also be  driven not more than 25 miles away from the farm to a place of business to purchase agriculture supplies. The vehicles are also allowed to be driven to  a place of business not more than 50 miles away for sole purpose of servicing or repairing the farm vehicle or trailer towed by the farm vehicle.

Greater than 17,000 pounds

For farmers with farm vehicles weighing more than 17,000 pounds that aren’t subjected to periodic inspection requirements, there are also some limits on when and how far they can be driven.

Once again, they can only driven during the daytime, but they can only be driven between farms (owned by the vehicle owner) that are 10 miles apart and to businesses that are not more than 10 miles away for agricultural purposes.

For vehicles weighing greater than 17,000 pounds, they can also be driven between one farm of the vehicle owner and a place of business not more than 25 miles away for purpose of servicing or repairing the farm vehicle or trailer towed by the farm vehicle.

Yearly inspections

If a vehicle weighing greater than 17,000 is inspected yearly, then the times and distance change. The vehicle can be operated during both day and night. It can also be operated on roads that adjoin a farm owned or operated by the owner of the vehicle and between farms not more than 50 miles apart.

It can also be transported between the farm of the vehicle owner to a place of business to purchase agricultural supplies or for the purpose of servicing or repairing the farm vehicle or trailer towed not more than 50 miles away.
Trailers. The legislature also made some changes to the laws regarding trailers in the state of Pennsylvania.

For example, a trailer being towed for agricultural purposes is automatically exempt from registration. There will be no prior determination of exemption by PennDOT required.

However, the trailer exempt from registration may be used within 50 miles of any farm owned or operated by the owner of the vehicle.

Trailers towed by an implement of husbandry exempt from registration may be used on roads other than freeways up to 14 feet six inches wide. If used during nighttime, the trailer must have and operate at least one yellow revolving, flashing or strobe light visible to drivers from any direction and hazard signal lights.

Trailers towed by other agricultural vehicles may be used on roads other than freeways up to 14 feet six inches wide to transport crops and manure.

Farm products that may be hauled under special width allowance have been broadened from the prior law. If used during night hours, the trailer must have and operate at least one yellow revolving, flashing or strobe light visible to drivers from any direction and hazard signal lights.

Multipurpose vehicles

In Pennsylvania, a motor vehicle qualifies as a multipurpose agricultural vehicle if it is 62 inches or less in width and 2,000 pounds in dry weight and is used exclusively for farming purposes.

A MAV may be used on roads that adjoin farm owned by the owner of the vehicle and between farms of the of vehicle owner not more than five miles apart.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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