Ag Transport: Wyoming Highway Patrol seeks to improve ag safety
Wyoming Highway Patrol recently launched a new program and created a new position to increase safety protocols associated with agriculture transport.
In response to an increased need for safety, the Highway Patrol appointed Alyssa Meyers as the agriculture safety coordinator within the existing Commercial Carrier Section.
Meyers has a background in agriculture and holds an associate’s degree in agriculture science, as well as a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business.
“I never would have thought I’d be working in law enforcement with my degree,” Meyers says. “My previous position as a point of entry officer didn’t involve agriculture, so I was very excited to apply for this position.”
Ag safety program
“The program is collaborative,” Meyers says. “We are here to help producers when they have questions about licensing, safety protocols and other mandates associated with hauling particular products.”
Meyers says she hopes to build a bank of educational materials to distribute to producers as she settles into the position.
“The position is brand new, so we are still trying to get things lined out as far as publications and other educational materials,” Meyers explains. “We want to be a resource for Wyoming producers.”
Meyers notes she will be available to speak to cooperatives, district meetings and other agriculture groups to discuss transport safety protocols.
“We will serve as a liaison between Wyoming Highway Patrol and other organizations such as Wyoming Livestock Board, high school and college rodeo, insurance agencies and other agriculture cooperative organizations,” says Meyers.
Giving farmers a voice
“As we all know, legislation is constantly changing,” says Meyers. “We hope to help farmers have a voice in agriculture transportation safety legislation.”
Meyers explains one of her goals is to increase communication between the Highway Patrol and agriculture producers.
“If there is new or changing laws, we want to make sure producers and Highway Patrol alike are made aware,” she says. “We want everyone to be on the same page.”
Meyers says she hopes to give producers an avenue to have their voices heard when legislative changes are on the table.
“We want to hear producers’ opinions and feedback on what we’re doing and how we can make it better,” Meyer says. “We want to give farmers a voice.”
Farm equipment crashes
The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) gathered data on equipment crashes between 2005-10. In those five years, there were more than 7,000 equipment crashes involving farm equipment.
The study found that, contrary to popular belief, the issue of farm equipment crashes is not isolated to rural areas. While 70 percent did occur in rural zip codes, the remaining 30 percent happened in urban areas.
GCPAH also reports certain types of roads experience more crashes than others. High-speed roads over 50 miles per hour, high-traffic density areas with more than an average of 361 vehicles per day, farm-to-market roads and roads with narrow lanes were all prone to farm equipment crashes.
Compliance with lighting and marking standards offered by the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) was also shown to be related to farm equipment crashes.
Of nine states, the ones with marking and lighting policies most consistent with ASABE standards had significant reductions in farm equipment crashes.
Lieutenant Dan Wyrick, of Wyoming Highway Patrol notes another need for the program stemmed from confusion surrounding recreational trailer hauling.
“The laws surrounding at what point a rig becomes commercial have changed a lot recently,” Wyrick says. “This really affects students participating in college and high school rodeo because most of them aren’t old enough to test for a commercial driver’s license.”
Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) laws, most rodeo rigs fall into a commercial category due to the combined weight of truck and trailer being over 26,000 pounds.
FMCSA also mandates any person hauling for profit falls under a commercial category. The gray area of what constitutes as profit is another reason why the Wyoming Highway Patrol deemed this position necessary, according to Wyrick.
Wyrick says these laws also forbid someone without a commercial driver’s license from crossing state lines with their truck and trailer.
“We have college rodeo kids who are mostly under 21 who can’t haul by themselves because they can’t get the correct licensing,” Wyrick explains. “There is so much confusion and gray area, and we want to do the best we can to clear up any confusion.”
“We want people to understand the laws, so they can follow them,” he says. “There is a lot of misunderstanding about licensing, and we hope this new position will serve as a guide to those who are affected by these laws.”
Callie Hanson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.