Stay safe as agricultural activity picks up on the roads
MADISON - With spring planting underway motorists throughout Wisconsin will be encountering more and more agricultural equipment as farmers are out tending to the fields.
As agricultural equipment is heavy and often slow-moving, there are special considerations that both the farming community and the traveling public should keep in mind to prevent crashes and damage to state infrastructure.
“The road to every grocery store and farmer’s market starts in Wisconsin’s countryside,” said WisDOT Secretary Dave Ross. “It’s important that we give our farmers the room they need to get the job done. That means eliminating distractions, moving over when possible and slowing down.”
“It is a busy time of year. Farmers and the public alike need to share the roadway. Machinery operators have to be aware of the speed of traffic and traffic must slow down for farm vehicles that tend to be slow moving. Please stay safe!,” said Secretary Ben Brancel.
Tractors and other implements of husbandry are allowed to operate on Wisconsin roadways, provided the vehicles are within weight limits. Agricultural weight limits are 23,000 pounds per axle or 92,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, dependent on number of axles and axle spacing, and subject to seasonal or special postings.
Watch out for farm vehicles – Sixteen people have been killed and 517 injured over the past five years in crashes involving agricultural equipment in Wisconsin. Drivers should slow down immediately whenever they see a fluorescent orange slow-moving vehicle emblem on the rear of a tractor or other piece of equipment.
Stay alert, focused and patient when passing a slow moving agricultural vehicle in an area where passing is legal. Importantly, remember that a recent change in Wisconsin law makes it illegal for motorists to pass slow moving agricultural equipment in a no passing zone.
Know the lighting and marking requirements – Lighting and marking requirements draw attention to the size, shape and speed of agricultural vehicles and alert drivers that caution is required. There are specific requirements for different types of equipment. WisDOT has information and a short explanatory video published on the web.
Know local weight restrictions – Agricultural equipment axle weights are typically heavy and can have a significant impact on our roads and bridges.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection publishes a map with local information about weight limits and, when applicable, local permitting needs.
More information on weight limits, driving safety permitting and exemptions is published at AgVehicles.DOT.wi.gov.