Urbanization of traditional agricultural production regions and changing agricultural production practices has led to a substantial increase in the mix of agricultural equipment and licensed motor vehicles on public roads.

Recognizing the need to quantify and qualify risks of vehicular collisions, the Cooperative State, Research, Education, and Extension Service North Central Regional Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension released a white paper identifying research, policy and extension and outreach priorities for operating agricultural equipment on public roads.

Federal, state and local government bodies rarely give this area of roadway safety any attention because agriculture-related collisions comprise a low percentage (0.2 percent) of all vehicle collisions. The impacts of changing demographics that characterize the urban/rural interface are not well researched or understood. Therefore, the committee identified possible research needs, design and practice standards, goals and guidelines for farm equipment manufacturers, standard setting organizations and government agencies. The report addresses the following areas: the rural/urban traffic interface, state and federal regulations, higher speed tractors and transport of workers on public roadways with farm equipment.

The report calls for research describing the characteristics of crashes between motor vehicles and agricultural equipment using standard reporting guidelines. Engineering design standards should be used to incorporate automatic and passive protection for drivers and riders of agricultural equipment during public road use. Safety education programs are needed to educate both the public and farmers on best practices for operating agricultural equipment on public roads, approaching slow moving vehicles on public roads and the effects of excluding agricultural equipment from road weight and use restrictions.

The paper also recommends policy changes for a consistent source of funding for research into hazards, risks and best safety practices and for the development of a Uniform Vehicle Code, which should be adopted by all states.

The full text of the white paper is available online. For more information, contact Dennis Murphy at Pennsylvania State University, (814) 865-7157.

CSREES collaborated with the North Central Regional Committee to identify research and extension priorities.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.