Dear Friend of Agriculture,
Last year, I introduced the Agricultural Machinery Illumination Safety Act and today I am proud to tell you it was included as part of the transportation bill that passed the House this afternoon.
My legislation will improve the safety of our rural roads by ensuring the lights and markings on new agricultural machinery are standardized. My legislation specifically directs the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate a rule to improve the daytime and nighttime visibility of agricultural equipment that may be operated on a public road.
I was surprised to learn that 55 percent of all traffic fatalities occur on rural 2-lane roads where agricultural equipment is moved from field to field during the dimly-lit periods of dawn and dusk. Proper lighting and markings can help enhance visibility and increase the safety of transportation on these roads.
Currently, there are no federal standards for such requirements, and state laws that apply can vary widely, often representing outdated technology which can lead to safety hazards. The Agricultural Machinery Illumination Safety Act would require the American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineers to implement these standards no later than two years after the enactment of this legislation. Additionally, the legislation will grant the Secretary of Transportation the authority to improve these minimum standards as technology improves.
It is important to note that this bill is not retroactive, meaning that owner-operators will not be forced to retrofit the lighting and marking of their agricultural machinery. Thus, there will be no cost to farmers, nor any cost to taxpayers.
The Illinois Farm Bureau has been among those who have voiced their support for my legislation. "Illinois Farm Bureau works to enhance the safety of farmers by encouraging them to use and, when necessary, replace safety lighting, markings, and reflective devices that are of extreme importance when used on farm machinery," said President Philip Nelson. "Farm Bureau supports the Agricultural Machinery Illumination Safety Act, which will provide for periodic review and improvement of farm equipment lighting standards without mandating changes to existing equipment."
As always, I will continue to keep you updated on my work on behalf of the agricultural community in Illinois.