Matt Troutman Oct. 10, 2019

Beware of tractors on your roadways at night!

I am an auto accident lawyer in the state of Kentucky and normally I am sharing the experiences of my clients as they are invloved in car accidents through out the state of Kentucky and in other states. Recently, I had an accident of my own and I am sharing this with you as a warning to help you avoid a similar experience. While transporting my grandchildren home to their parents, I ran into the back of a trailer being transported by a tractor at a very slow rate of speed in the black of night. As you can tell by the picture of my vehicle after the accident, this accident was a significant crash. Fortunately, my grandchildren were not injured (child saftey seats did their job) and I only suffered an eye injury.

There are several things I hope you will learn about my experience. First, amazingly, there is no Kentucky law prohibiting tractors or other slow moving vehicles from using the state highways even at night. In my accident, it was dark, there were no street lights, the speed limit was 55 mph, the impact occurred just over a hill, the trailer had no lights, the tractor had one light facing me and it was a red light that was on the back of the tractor seat (high above where I would have been looking) that I never had an opportunity to see prior to impact with the trailer that was several feet behand the tractor. There is a "low speed vehicle" law (KRS 189.282) that allows vehicles designed to go 25mph or less to drive on a road with a speed limit of 35mph, but it is unclear if the law applies to tractors. 

There is a Kentucky law (KRS 189.820) requiring tractors to have an emblem or reflective tape in place on the back of it while operating on a roadway. The tractor pulling the trailer I ran into did not have this emblem or reflective tape. It would not have helped. Despite this fact and the other factors described above, the investigating police officer listed me as at fault in the accident - "inattention." The second lesson from my accident is that police officers sometimes make mistakes when completing traffic accident reports. Even though I believe there ought to be a law restricting all slow moving vehicles from the roadways at night except maybe under special circumstances, there is a general law (KRS 189.290) requiring the operator of any vehicle to drive carefully and operating a vehicle at 15 mph in the dark on a road where the speed limit is 55mph is not driving carefully.

Finally, the last lesson from my experience is to use your high beam lights that give you a better opportunity to avoid the slow moving vehicles in the dark. This habit will also help you avoid all the deers and other wild animals that try to cross our state highways. Even though I use my high beams more often, they would not have helped me on the day of my accident, because my accident took place over a hill and the headlights would have been unable to illuminate what was on the otherside of the hill. However, it will help you when you are on a straightaway and I will continue this new habit.

Beware of tractors on your roadways at night!