An Analysis of Farm Equipment Accidents on North Carolina Public Roads

  • LeGarde, John C.


This is an exploratory study to determine the patterns of highway accidents in North Carolina involving farm tractors and other farm equipment. A total of 1806 farm equipment accidents occurring in 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1971 were used in this study (the 1967 accident files were not available), and certain comparisons were made using all North Carolina accidents in 1969. In addition, several other comparisons were made using the 1972 accident and driver license files.

It was found that farm equipment operators in accidents suffer more fatalities and injuries than do other drivers. Farm equipment accidents follow a pattern of seasonal agricultural use and are more likely to occur in clear weather, during daylight hours, in open country, and on straight, level, paved roads. Farm equipment involved in highway accidents is more likely to be lacking proper lighting equipment than are other vehicles involved in farm equipment crashes.

Farm equipment operators involved in accidents are almost exclusively male, while about three-fourths of all accident drivers are male. Above the age of sixteen, operators of farm equipment are older than are drivers of the other vehicles.

Almost one-half of all collisions involving farm equipment and other motor vehicles occur when both vehicles are going straight, and another one-fourth occur when the tractor turns left while being passed by another vehicle.

Adult tractor operators involved in collisions are more likely to be sober than accident drivers in general, but nearly 18 percent of adult tractor drivers involved in single-vehicle non-collision accidents have been drinking.

On the basis of the results, the author makes the following recommendations:

  1. A requirement that the slow-moving vehicle emblem be affixed to farm equipment operating on public roads.
  2. A requirement that adult farm equipment operators possess a valid driver's license.
  3. A requirement such as exists in some other states whereby underage persons may qualify for a special license for agricultural purposes. Such persons could be required to demonstrate competence in handling farm equipment before operating such equipment on public roads.
  4. A requirement that directional signals and some type of rear-view mirror be present on farm equipment while on public highways.
  5. A requirement that farm equipment being towed by tractors be properly lighted when on public roads during periods of darkness. In addition, existing requirements that farm tractors on public roads be properly lighted should be more strictly enforced.
  6. Stronger enforcement of all other existing laws governing the operation of farm equipment on the public highways.


SOURCE: Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina; 1975. 43.


This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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