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FMCSR Applicability to Farm Trucks

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

We just completed a series of five podcasts discussing commercial vehicle regulations.

In particular, we discussed the FMCSR rules and how they apply to commercial truck drivers and motor carriers.

If you listened to all five podcasts, you are now an expert on the operational requirements of commercial motor vehicles. Maybe not an expert, but someone with more knowledge than usual.

Suppose you share a highway with a farm semi-tractor trailer loaded with grain or livestock. Must the farmer comply with the many regulations involving other commercial vehicles?

The answer is, for the most part, yes. But, also, no.

The agricultural use operators must comply with requirements to check for brake operation, check the tires, and ensure the vehicle is in good operational order.

However, many states either exempt agricultural transportation vehicles from the more demanding regulations or offer a waiver for farm vehicles.

For example, a restricted CDL may be offered in some states. This exempts drivers from meeting specific training requirements (such as hazmat training).

To qualify for an exemption or waiver, the agricultural use vehicle must:

  •  be controlled and operated by a farmer, employees, or family members.
  •  be used to transport either agricultural products, farm machinery, farm supplies, or both to and from a farm.
  •  not be used in the operations of a for-hire motor carrier; and,
  •  be used within 150 miles of the farmer’s farm.

On the other hand, basic regulations, such as setting out flares and warning signs if the vehicle stalls on the roadway, do apply to agricultural use vehicles.

However, one of the most critical differences in farm semi-tractor-trailers treatment under the law is the insurance coverage required for such vehicles.

Commercial motor vehicles operated by motor carriers must have $1 million coverage. Farm tractor-trailer operations do not.

The lack of coverage can be important if you collide with the farm semi-tractor trailer.

Most states justify the lower insurance coverage limits by stating that the farm vehicle is not on the road often and is a seasonal operation. Thus, the farmers do not have to pay the high premiums of $1 million in insurance coverage.

If you’re going to get involved in a collision with a semi-tractor-trailer, be sure you collide with one with the required $1 million of coverage.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”