Using tractors to haul people in wagons is against the law in Ohio. (Photo credit: Heiserhollow.net)
*A version of this article originally appeared in the March 21, 2018, edition of The Budget Newspaper.
By Beverly Keller
Regulations regarding farm tractors pulling trailers that are filled with passengers will be enforced in Holmes County.
That is the message from Holmes County law enforcement after the regulations regarding such modes of transportation were clarified by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently.
According to the opinion issued by DeWine, if a farm tractor is on the road and pulling a trailer filled with passengers, it must adhere to Ohio’s Motor Vehicle laws, including the Open Cargo Law, which restricts transporting passengers in an open cargo area of a vehicle such as a truck.
According to the Open Cargo Law, people ages 16 and older can ride in a properly-licensed trailer or the back of a truck. Passengers ages 15 and younger can also ride in a properly-licensed trailer or back of a truck, but only if it’s being driven at less than 25 MPH or the passengers are seated and wearing seat belts.
The law does not apply to trailers being used for agricultural purposes or trucks with a covered cargo area.
The opinion went on to state that if a trailer is towed on a public road and used for a purpose other than to transport agricultural products between a place of storage and the farm, it does not constitute farm machinery, and must meet road guidelines.
When not classified as farm machinery, both the tractor and trailer must meet road guidelines. The trailer must have rear lights that glow red and can be seen from a distance of 500 feet. The tractor towing the trailer must also have two or more braking lamps mounted on the rear and a white license plate light to illuminate the plate. To get a plate, one must register the vehicle and pay licensing fees. To lawfully operate the vehicle, the driver must be of legal age and possess a license.
“There are a lot of misconceptions,” explained Millersburg Police Chief Tom Vaughn. “We receive a lot of questions about this. We are not looking to pick on anyone. We want to educate and clarify so everyone understands.”
Holmes County Sheriff Tim Zimmerly noted that education may have to come by way of enforcement. “If there is an accident, the driver will be cited,” he said.
It was noted that the operation of low-speed golf carts, utility vehicles and mini trucks is also prohibited on public roads unless it has been authorized in a village or township by a local ordinance.
The only local entity allowing operation of golf carts on the streets is Strasburg in Tuscarawas County. In both Holmes and Tuscarawas counties, those operating golf carts have been stopped and warned. Upon a second or third offense, those operators have been issued tickets.
Those with questions are urged to contact local law enforcement.
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