Can your utility vehicle travel on the road?

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Farm utility vehicle
Ohio and Pennsylvania laws allow farm utility vehicles to operate with out a registration and title. (Katy Mumaw photo)

SALEM, Ohio — A new Ohio law affects farmers use certain utility vehicles, including Gators, Mules and other utility vehicles with a bed designed to transport cargo.

The new law is part of the 2018-2019 transportation budget, formally known as House Bill 26, which went into effect June 30, 2017.

It permits vehicles in Ohio to travel on any public road or right of way — other than a freeway — when traveling from one farm field to another for agricultural purposes.

Under HB 26, utility vehicles are now required to display a triangular Slow-Moving Vehicle emblem.

Previously, it was up to local law enforcement to interpret the law and decide whether a utility vehicle should have a SMV and required farmers to know whether the county or township allowed utility vehicles on the road.

Take note. The top three things to keep in mind before you drive a utility vehicle on the road:

  1. In order to use a utility vehicle on a public road, a driver must be traveling from one farm field to another farm field for agricultural purposes.
  2. Utility vehicle drivers must display a SMV on any utility vehicle used on a public road as it travels between farm fields.
  3. The Ohio Revised Code prohibits the placement of earth, mud, manure, or other materials on a public highway, so if you’re tractor or utility vehicle leaves such debris or mud in the roadway, you’d better clean it up.

OHIO LAWS

Q. What qualifies as a utility vehicle?

A. A utility vehicle is one designed with a bed, for transporting material or cargo related to agricultural activities. Not all ATVs and APVs will be included in this definition.

• • •

Q. Do I need a license and registration?

A. A 2009 law required registration for APVs and ATVs, defined as “self-propelled vehicles designed primarily for cross-country travel” — but the law exempted  APVs and ATVs used for farming.

As long as the utility vehicle is used primarily for agricultural purposes and the owner qualifies for current agricultural use valuation, CAUV, it does not require registration or a license.

• • •

Q. Can I drive on the berm?

A. A farmer may drive a utility vehicle on the berm or shoulder of a roadway if the terrain permits such operation to be undertaken safely and without entering a traffic lane. If the farmer cannot operate on the berm without entering a traffic lane, the farmer should operate entirely on the roadway.

• • •

Q. Can my child drive?

A. A child who does not hold a driver’s license may not operate the utility vehicle on a roadway or on any portion of the right-of-way.

A child under 16 may operate a utility vehicle on the family’s farm, and may also operate on another’s farm or private property if accompanied by a person who is at least 18 and holds a driver’s license.

• • •

Q. Do I need a helmet?

A. No, drivers of utility vehicles operated for farm use are not required to where a helmet on roadways.

PENNSYLVANIA LAWS

Q. What types of vehicles are under the law?

A. In Pennsylvania, multipurpose agricultural vehicles, or MAV, are defined as a motor vehicle that is 62 inches or less in width and 2,000 pounds or less in dry weight and which is used exclusively for agricultural operations and only incidentally operated or moved upon the highways.

• • •

Q. Do I need a license and registration?

Farm utility vehicle
Ohio law requires all utility vehicles to display the orange SMV sign. (Katy Mumaw photo)

A. MAVs in Pennsylvania exclusively used as a farm or business vehicle do not need a title or registration. But, if they are traveling more than five miles they may need a plaque, plate, SMV sign or permit regulated by each municipality.

• • •

Q. When can I drive on the street?

A. It is illegal to operate on any street or highway that is not designated and posted as an ATV road by the governmental agency having jurisdiction.

ATVs and MAVs are permitted to cross bridges when necessary and may use highways when declared by a policy agency having jurisdiction. Such vehicles can cross streets or highways at an angle of approximately 90 degrees

• • •

Q. Can my child drive?

A. Youth must be 16 to operate; a driver’s license is not required. Youth 8-16 must have taken a safety training course with the department of forestry and must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

• • •

Q. Do I need a helmet?

A. Those using the vehicle for agricultural purposes are not required to have a helmet, those using it for recreation are.

Sources: Ohio State University AgLaw Blog, Peggy Kirk Hall, Assistant Professor, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law, Sally Bushong, Clerk II, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Chapter 77 of the PA Vehicle Code.

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Katy Mumaw is a graduate of Ohio State University where she studied agricultural communications and Oklahoma State University earning her master's in agricultural leadership. The former Farm and Dairy reporter enjoys family time and sharing the stories of agriculture.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is predudice to only allow farmers to use utv’ s on Ohio road ways as stated in house bill 26. This is crap. Farmers already put the public at risk driving tractors on road. Just as Amish buggies do!! How is this right to allow these people to use these roads and not the other tax paying public. Straight up bull!

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