Question:: Is it legal for a person (non-farmer) to drive his tractor on county roads and state routes for fun? If it is legal, is it OK for him to drive with no lights after dark? And with his children hanging on the back of it?
Answer: No. Farm equipment is only allowed to be driven "incidentally" on the roadways to move from one section of a farm to another.
Lighting on vehicles is covered under RCW 46.37.020. The law requires every vehicle on roads at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead to have lighted headlights, other lights, and illuminating devices as required for different classes of vehicles.
Required lighting for farm equipment is under RCW 46.37.160. Every farm tractor and every self-propelled unit of farm equipment assembled after January 1, 1970, shall be equipped with vehicular hazard warning lights visible from a distance of not less than 1,000 feet to the front and rear in normal sunlight. They need to be on whenever any such vehicle is operated upon a highway. Such vehicles also need to have at least two headlamps, one red lamp on the rear that can be seen 1,000 feet away and two red reflectors on the rear. If the vehicle is designed for operating at speeds less than 25 mph, it must have a slow-moving vehicle emblem mounted on the rear as well.
Children hanging on a vehicle, or pets for that matter, also are a violation, covered under RCW 46.61.660. It's unlawful to transport any person upon the running board, fenders, hood or other outside part of any vehicle, except for authorized emergency vehicles or trash or recycling collection vehicles on route at 20 mph or less. It's unlawful for any person to transport any living animal on the running board, fenders, hood or other outside part of any vehicle unless suitable harness, cage or enclosure be provided and so attached as to protect such animal from falling or being thrown.
Q: Just a little more understanding on school zones, I understand that it does not matter what time of the day, week, year or the age the children who are present that these School Zones are in effect. Is that correct?
A: No. The laws and rules are very specific about all of these issues.
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David Wright is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.