We've all experienced the frustration of being stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. In most cases, we're able to slow down, wait until we can pass, and get on with our day. However, anyone who has ever driven on a country road in summertime knows that it's only a matter of time before have to travel at a snail's pace due to farm vehicles on the road.
Causes of Collisions Between Farm Equipment and Motor Vehicles
Tractors, harvesters, utility vehicles, and motorized seeding or fertilizing equipment are all vital machines in a farmer's fleet. While many of these vehicles are road-legal, they are designed to operate efficiently in the field, not on public roadways. Tennessee farm workers may have to travel several miles between fields, increasing the risks of a collision with reckless or impatient drivers behind them.
Car accidents with farm equipment can happen in many ways, including:
- Distracted driving. Farm vehicles may travel at speeds of 25mph or less on rural highways with much higher speed limits. Drivers may be lulled into a false sense of security as they slow down, passing the time behind the slower vehicle by reading text messages, checking their email, or even playing games on their cellphones.
- Lane incursions. Farm equipment may be wide enough to extend into other lanes, causing sideswipe accidents as the equipment "trips" oncoming vehicles.
- Problems passing. If there's no safe place for the farmer to pull over, drivers may become frustrated and attempt to pass without making sure that there is a clear view ahead. In some cases, multiple vehicles may attempt to pass at once, causing collisions that lead to a multi-car pileup.
- Problems merging. Some farm vehicles that are too large to travel on roadways may be hinged and folded into narrower shapes. This can make the equipment ill-balanced and awkward to operate and could mean that the vehicle is longer than it appears from the rear. A driver who attempts to pass a "tractor" may discover that the vehicle is three car lengths longer than anticipated, leaving too little time to merge before being struck by oncoming traffic.
- Road rage. A farmer may be unable to move onto the shoulder because it's too steep, narrow, or muddy. An impatient driver may tailgate or swerve dangerously near the tractor, forcing the farmer to crash at the side of the road—and all of the vehicles behind him to suffer rear-end collisions.
- Wide turns. Farm vehicles pull over to the right to let drivers pass, but they also pull over to make wide left-hand turns. A following driver may assume the farmer is making room for the faster car, only to be t-boned by the farm vehicle as it turns left.
- Vehicle defects. Farmers have a duty to maintain their equipment, including replacing worn tires and ensuring front and rear lights are clearly visible to other drivers. They should also make sure any loads they are carrying (such as seeds, water, or hay bales) are secured and trailers are properly hitched.
Getting Compensation After a Farm Vehicle Crash
Depending on the size of the farm vehicle, these accidents can be catastrophic for either driver. A collision between a car and a combine harvester could be fatal to a driver but may result in only minor property damage for the farmer. On the other hand, the farmer may be thrown from the vehicle when a small tractor collides with an SUV.
If you have been injured in this type of crash, you could collect a wide variety of damages for your losses and suffering. The legal team at GriffithLaw would be honored to listen to your story and explain your legal options to you free of charge. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or give us a call at (615) 807-7900 to learn more.