The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) applauds U.S. Senate committee approval of legislation to improve safety on rural roads by providing consistency regarding lighting and marking requirements for agricultural machinery. The legislation was included in a highway safety bill approved by a voice vote of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The association expects to now see the measure combined with the "highway bill" due for consideration early in 2012.
The national legislation uses the standard developed by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) for establishing a national minimum for lighting and marking agriculture equipment. Many states have already incorporated the ASABE standard or earlier versions into their motor vehicle codes, and ASABE says that, as a result, "countless American lives have been spared from roadway tragedy."
AEM supports the legislation, and at AEM's request, Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the legislation. Sen. Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chair of the Ag Committee, is a co-sponsor. Two members of the House of Representatives, Phil Hare (D-Ill.) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to other members of the House in support of the legislation. The letter points out the need for federal legislation since "state laws that apply vary widely, often representing outdated technology."
The letter stated, "Fifty-five percent of all traffic fatalities occur on rural two-lane roads where agricultural equipment is moved from field to field during the dimly-lit periods of dawn and dusk, and proper lighting and marking can enhance visibility and increase the safety of transportation on these roads."
The bill is not retroactive and thus will pose no costs to farmers for existing machinery.