While it’s probably true that most drivers who live in cities — such as Gaithersburg, Annapolis and the District of Columbia — feel that driving in the country is mostly relaxing and free from the stress and dangers associated with urban traffic, there are still significant risks for car, truck and motorcycle riders out in the more rural areas. For example, tractors and other farm vehicles that use the roadways here in Maryland and across the United States are usually slower and more ponderous than any passenger car or commercial truck.
The very nature of a farm tractor or hay wagon makes it a relatively slow vehicle compared to other passenger cars, SUV and even large over-the-road commercial trucks. These are such slow vehicles that owners are required to display a caution triangle on the rear of the vehicle to warn other drivers of the potential hazard. On country roads were speeds can range from 35, 45 and even 55mph, a farm implement moving from one part of a farm to another may only be able to hit 15mph or so. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we know that one of the more significant causes of traffic accidents is speed disparity.
When a car, truck or motorcycle traveling at 50mph or more encounters a tractor along a country road, the speed differential can be as much as 20 or 30mph, sometimes more depending on the type of load being pulled by the tractor, as well as other factors. Cresting a hill to find a slow-moving farm implement, a driver may have only a couple seconds to either slow down or attempt to pass the slower moving vehicle. In such situations, especially is an oncoming vehicle is closing as well, a roadway collision could be imminent.
Given the width of the load, a larger vehicle such as a semi tractor-trailer may not even be able to safely pass the farm vehicle until the driver pulls off the road to allow the trucker to pass. A circumstance such as this occurred not long ago when a big rig pulling a flatbed trailer lost its load after striking a farm tractor on Rte 1 over on the Harford County side of Conowingo Dam.
Based on news reports, the crash happened around 2:30pm, as a 58-year-old trucker was driving his 18-wheeler northbound on Rte 1. Police reports indicated that a John Deere tractor, which was pulling a corn planter, was stopped at the dam as its driver waited for traffic coming from the south to pass. The farm implement was too wide to allow the tractor and opposing traffic to pass along the road that crosses the dam.
Apparently, the trucker misjudged the distance between the planter and his rig and, upon attempting to pass the farmer, the semi clipped the corn planter. The impact resulted in minor injuries to the farmer, a 25-year-old resident of Jarrettsville, MD. The truck driver was reportedly uninjured.
Emergency personnel arriving on the scene helped to transport the farmer to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital in the Baltimore area. Cleanup of the roadway took several hours and included work by the local hazmat team, which was enlisted to remove close to 100 gallons of spilled diesel fuel on the roadway.
Route 1 reopened across Conowingo Dam following early Wednesday accident, BaltimoreSun.com, May 3, 2012