State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Vehicle code gets an update farmers say is much-needed

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 19, 2012 5:06 PM
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Pending changes to the state’s vehicle code would allow your vehicle to be a foot-and-a-half wider, as long as it’s a piece of farm equipment.

The state’s vehicle code is about to receive the first husbandry-related updates it’s had in decades – allowing farming equipment on the roads to be up to 16 feet wide. Changes to the vehicle code would also make it legal to drive such equipment longer distances – trucks and other larger vehicles could go as far as 50 miles on the open road, up from just 25 miles under the old code.

Farmers like Marty Yahner say the changes are much-needed, because the code hasn’t kept pace with the advent of larger farming equipment and farms that sprawl across owned and rented properties.

“We’re getting larger, and picking up more land, and growing in acreage, and growing in distance traveled,” said Yahner from his Cambria County farm. He said the Yahner Brothers Farm is a classic case of an operation that needs the ability to legally drive larger, modern equipment longer distances between landholdings. “The old saying is farmers need to make hay in the sunshine, well that goes for planting and harvesting, too.”

“We hate to admit it, but because the way the vehicle code was for previous years, [with] wide equipment the farmer might not be totally legal,” Yahner added, “and if an accident would happen, you know, liability insurance might not cover it and whatnot.”

The proposals passed by the state House and Senate in the final week of the legislative session also include safety measures, like requiring additional lighting and escort vehicles with larger equipment on the roads.

“These are all designed to provide safety for, really, the public – people who might be approaching a wider farm vehicle or might be coming up behind,” said Mark O’Neill, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. He added that farmers haven’t been able to get special vehicle permits for their equipment because they occupy a certain category of exempt vehicles.

A spokeswoman with governor’s office said Gov.Corbett plans to sign the legislation.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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