An initial Wisconsin report developed to sort through problems caused in part by antiquated road regulations and oversized equipment, as well as unimproved and damaged roads and bridges, has been submitted to the state Department of Transportation.
“The ultimate goal is to have consistency that will let everyone know what the rules are, including law enforcement,” says Dick Kraus, an Elkhart, WI, custom chopper and Wisconsin Custom Operators board member who worked on the report.
The Implements of Husbandry Studyis in response to growing problems with ag equipment causing road damage and being a safety hazard to tourists and country residents. The report authors are working to categorize the equipment and its use. One suggestion offered: A fee-based decal requirement for vehicles identified as implements of husbandry.
“For example, if a law enforcement official pulls over an operator with a corn planter, he may not have any idea what it is. But if there’s a decal, with some identification on it, he may be able to determine what it is, what it does, how big it should be and how heavy it is to meet certain guidelines,” Kraus says.
At this point, custom harvesters and nutrient applicators have a hard time complying with 50- to 60-year-old regulations made when equipment was smaller, lighter and narrower, he adds. And local law enforcement officers are hard-pressed to accurately and fairly decide whether farmers and operators are complying with laws.
“Also, towns are concerned about the cost to repair roads” damaged by heavy ag equipment, says Cheryl Skjolaas, University of Wisconsin Extension ag safety specialist also involved with the study.
Ag groups, equipment manufacturers and government agencies continue to try to make sense out of a complicated set of issues, she says. A second-phase report on machinery weight issues is to be completed by July 31. Kraus and Skjolaas hope the phase I report, at http://bit.ly/15mcjGS, will lead to fair legislation.
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