Farmers Responsibilities for Securing Loads and Removing Dropped Substances

The rules discussed below are important whether traveling across the state, across your local community or simply moving on public roadways between parts of your farm.

Secured Loads
Vehicles must be operated in a manner that prevents any portion of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping, no matter how small that portion is. The only exceptions provided in the Vehicle Code are feathers or other matter that escape from vehicles hauling live or slaughtered birds or animals.

Every object that is being transported must be placed in a fully-enclosed vehicle or must be properly fastened so as to prevent the object from becoming loose, detached or in any manner a hazard to other users of the highway. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations impose more specific requirements for tying down larger objects (like farm machinery and hay bales) that are transported in open bed vehicles and the equipment to be used for tying down these objects. Additional information about these federal regulations may be found below in the “Federal Cargo Securement Rules” section.

Although covering the open bed with a tarp or other secure cover is not specifically required under Pennsylvania law, the farmer may practically need to do so in order to comply with the general requirements to prevent loads from escaping. A farmer transporting material in bulk in an open bed truck or trailer that is not covered can be cited for two Vehicle Code violations (one for failing to properly secure the load and another for the dropped substance, discussed below), if any of the material would leave the vehicle.

Fines for failure to properly secure loads range from $100 to $300, if the violation did not cause injury to a person or property damage, and from $300 to $1,000, if the violation caused injury or property damage.

Removal of Dropped Substances
The Vehicle Code also requires the person who permits any waste or "dangerous or detrimental substance" to drop onto a public highway or on public or private property to immediately remove the dropped substance.

Farmers would be responsible for immediate clean up of any transported material that escapes from the vehicle. Farmers operating vehicles in farm fields could also be responsible for removing mud or debris brought onto the highway from the field, if the material would pose a hazard to vehicles or persons on the roadway.

Persons who fail to immediately remove waste and dangerous or detrimental substances deposited on highways can be fined to a maximum of $300. If the violation occurs in an agricultural security area, the maximum fine can be $600.

Federal Cargo Securement Rules
Operators of “commercial vehicles” carrying cargo across state lines must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) cargo securement regulations based upon the North American Cargo Securement Standard. According to FMCSA, these rules are designed to fully secure objects likely to harm the safe operation of the transporting vehicle (if objects shift) or cause serious injury or damage to other vehicles (if objects fall).

Operators of farm trucks and combinations powered by farm trucks with a weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds that are carrying cargo across state lines would be required to comply with the federal regulations for securing cargo.

These FMCSA cargo securement regulations establish both general standards that efforts to secure loads must prevent, and more specific requirements on the number and types of tie-down equipment that must be used and the way that the equipment must be used in order to secure transported objects. In addition, there are also commodity-specific securement requirements as well. You can learn more about the specific provisions of FMCSA’s cargo securement rules at: