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Rules of the road for farm transportation

Are you in compliance when hauling grain to the elevator, heading to the field in the combine or even loading a tractor onto the trailer to get it down the road?

Ohio has a number of road laws that impact agriculture and farmers learned about those laws at the 2015 Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professionals Leadership Experience in Columbus from Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Agriculture Law, Leah Curtis.

Although the laws haven’t changed that much, Curtis says a reminder every now and then can keep farmers safe and free of fines. Such fines can be divvied out due to being overweight, so Curtis discussed the three weight limits in Ohio important to farmers.

“We have a gross weight limit of 80,000 pounds, a tire weight limit which is 650 pounds per inch of inflated tire and then the axle limitation is typically determined by the Federal Bridge Formula,” Curtis said.

For a single axle, the Federal Bridge Formula allows for up to 20,000 pounds and a tandem axle for up to 34,000 pounds. With two or more consecutive axles, there are a few more steps involved.

First, check to see of the single axle does not exceed 20,000 pounds and then check that the tandem axles (axles two and three and axles four and five) do not exceed 34,000 pounds each. For compliance, no weight limits can be exceeded on individual axles, and the gross weight of the vehicle cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. The one exception to the Federal Bridge Rule is that two consecutive sets of tandem axles may carry a gross load of 34,000 each, provided the distance between the first and last axle is 36 feet or more.

A common source of weight violations for farmers is moving tractors and equipment.

“With grain carts or wagons, in particular, and the Federal Bridge Rule, farmers have to remember that the single axle weight limits do apply,” Curtis said. “So a 650-bushel grain wagon with an unladen weight of 6,450 pounds would have a total gross weight of 42,850 pounds filled. That would be in violation of the 20,000 pound single-axle weight limit.”

There is some wiggle room in the weight law for farm trucks or farm machinery transporting farm commodities.

“Farmers do get a 7.5 percent variance, or cushion, on all three weight limits in Ohio,” Curtis said. “Those apply to those hauling corn, soybeans, tobacco, milk, wheat, livestock, turf, sod, silage and manure.”

Curtis does warn that this variance does not apply in February or March and penalties could be of the civil type, where local officials can collect damages or of the criminal variety where fines could top $160 and may include up to 30 days in jail. Another exemption given to farmers is for machinery size requirements for length, width or height, as long as it is being driven by itself. Once that machinery is put on a trailer, size rules do go into effect.

“If machinery is on a trailer then the vehicle should not exceed 102 inches in width and no more than 13 feet, 6 inches in height,” Curtis said. “Anything larger than that will require a permit to be an oversized vehicle.”

Permits for overweight or oversized vehicles can be obtained from the Ohio Division of Highway Operations and a complete explanation of Ohio’s road rules can be found in Chapter 45 of The Ohio Revised Code.

For more, Farm Bureau members can pick up a “Trucking Guide” at the local county office.

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One comment

  1. Wow, it’s interesting that the gross weight of a vehicle cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. That’s incredibly stunning not only for the weight, but also that trucks are designed to pull that weight. Honestly, it’s incredible how much knowledge goes into something that seems like simple transportation.

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