The Need for DOT Regulations When Shipping Farm Equipment

2013 John Deere 4730 Sprayer loaded on a lowboy trailer for transport
December 14, 2023 Kayla 0 Comments

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William Thomas, Author

When shipping farm equipment, becoming intimately familiar with federal and state DOT regulations is essential. Most of us prefer to spend as little time as possible thinking about the Department of Transportation. However, when transporting heavy equipment of any type, being unaware of the applicable DOT regulations can have severe consequences both in monetary terms and regarding legal liabilities.

While some of their rules and regulations may seem arbitrary, it is essential to remember that the DOT is tasked with maintaining the condition of our roads and the safety of those who use them daily. To this end, they continually analyze data collected in engineering studies and real-life incident reports to formulate the standards that must be maintained.

The Importance of DOT Regulations for Farm Equipment Transport

For the most part, Department of Transportation regulations are instituted to protect public safety and ensure fair use of the nation’s highway systems. That is why they are formulated with requirements like special permitting, routing, and scheduling oversized load movement.

Hefty trucks can damage lighter road beds, and more extensive equipment, like many farm equipment, can disrupt the normal traffic flow. Overly tired drivers, improperly secured loads, or stored chemicals can present a health and safety hazard to the general public and the environment.

Adhering to Department of Transportation standards does complicate transporting farm equipment. It must be remembered, though, that the needs of the many outweigh those of the few, and safety is always a primary concern.

2013 John Deere 4730 Sprayer loaded on a lowboy trailer for transport

When transporting farm equipment, there are several areas where DOT regulations come into play. Minor is involved in shipping farm equipment that the Department of Transportation ignores. A few of the critical points that special attention must be paid to would include:

  • Load securement regulations
  • Proper permitting
  • Hazmat carriage regulations
  • Proper Placards

Of course, this is in addition to the standards that all heavy transports and their drivers must meet, such as:

  • Hours of service
  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
  • Vehicle maintenance and inspections
  • Driver qualification files
  • Mandatory Drug testing
  • Many others

A misstep in any of these areas can delay your farm equipment where it is needed when it is required. Even worse, violating any of these regulations can result in hefty fines and other less-than-desirable actions by the Department of Transportation.

In a worst-case scenario, if there is a mishap and it is found that your equipment or its loading violates DOT regulations, you could be held civilly and criminally liable.

Avoiding Unnecessary Obstructions When Shipping Farm Equipment

Perhaps more than any other profession, farmers are tied to a schedule over which they have little control. They can not pick up the phone, order rain, or ask the frost to hold off for one more week. The last thing they need is delays due to the inability to get their equipment where it needs to be.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take as a farmer or someone supplying equipment to them to help ensure that unnecessary obstructions do not arise.

  • Contract with a reputable farm equipment transport company specializing in farm and heavy equipment. Be sure to check their licensing and references.
  • Drain all fluids before transporting the equipment. This avoids any issues over fuel or oil leaks and the presence of unlabeled pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
  • Thoroughly clean all equipment before it is loaded for shipping. Falling debris can lead to complaints and insurance claims.
  • Check the shipping manifest carefully to ensure it is complete and all claimed items are present.
  • Provide the carrier with copies of titles, bills of sale, and other proof of legal ownership. This is especially important if crossing international borders.

When shipping farm equipment, DOT regulations are not optional. They are a fact of life, and we should all be thankful for it. Though they may necessitate more paperwork and cause minor delays in getting tools from A to B, they are essential in keeping everyone safe and helping maintain our highway system’s condition.