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Tommy Tractor Gets A Ticket


tommy tractorTommy the tractor lived on a farm in the state of Hoosier. He was a hardworking tractor with all the latest technology. Tommy played a very important role on the farm pulling all the important implements and helping to provide power to many of the machines on the farm. He took his work very seriously because he knew how much the farmer depended on him. He was up early and ready to go whenever the farmer came to get him.  He liked working in the field the best, pulling planters, cultivators, hay rakes, or whatever needed to be done. He liked to feel the fertile soil beneath his wheels and the farmer’s firm hand upon his controls.  But, one day, something happened that shock Tommy’s confidence and made him realize that not everyone valued him as much as the farmer did.


It was a pleasant spring morning. Tommy and the farmer were up early to begin to prepare one of the fields on the farm.  It was a field some distance from the shed where Tommy and the other farm equipment stayed, and Tommy was pulling a disc down the county road to get to the field. Tommy knew it was important to travel as fast as he could when on a road as to not tie up traffic from cars and trucks.  He knew that cars sometimes did not like being stuck behind him and his large load. They would sound their horns and sometimes race around him with very angry faces. When traveling on the road, Tommy always kept all his lights flashing and made sure his slow moving vehicle sticker was visible.


They were almost to the field when a car came up behind him.  The farmer had Tommy slide as far to one side of the road as he could and motioned the car to go around. It did not. Soon Tommy came to their field and turned in; the car followed.  Soon a second car pulled into the field; it was a police car. A woman got out of the car and began animatedly pointing at Tommy as the officer drove up.  The officer then walked over to the farmer and said he was going to give him a ticket. He said Tommy was causing a traffic hazard. The farmer got very red in the face, and Tommy felt very sad because he had never been given a ticket before. The farmer explained that Tommy was a tractor and had the right to move to and from the field on the roadway. The officer said that state law made special exemptions for harvesters and sprayers, but considered a tractor a vehicle and thus subject to traffic laws. Tommy was highly insulted; he was a working tractor not a common ordinary vehicle. 


After the officer and the woman who had called in the complaint had left, the farmer got on his cell phone and began calling other farmers. Several of them had also been given tickets for driving their tractors on the road. It turned out that, in the state of Hoosier, a tractor was described as a “motor vehicle designed and used primarily as a farm implement.” The farmer was told that, since the term vehicle was used, some law enforcement officers were applying vehicle regulations to tractors on the roads. Some farmers had even lost their licenses because of driving their tractors on the road. The farmer then used some words that Tommy had not heard before thus was unsure of their meaning. Throwing Tommy roughly into gear, the farmer began to work the field. Tommy was glad to be working and tried to forget what had just happened, but he was sad. From then on, he was very afraid each time he had to drive on the road.


At its annual policy meeting, Indiana Farm Bureau inserted a definition of a tractor into their policy book. In cooperation with the State Police, Farm Bureau intends to work for legislation to clarify the definition of a tractor as a “self-propelled implement of agriculture” and to provide protection for farmers operating equipment on the roads. It is hoped that this clarification will provide guidance for local law enforcement officers and traffic court judges.

By Gary Truitt