Be legal before you pull out

The neighbor pulled two hay wagons behind his hay baler, behind the tractor. That was the 1970s. Whether it was legal then doesn’t matter. Fact is that “three’s a crowd” behind a tractor or truck on Indiana roadways today.

“You’re only allowed to pull two implements of agriculture behind a tractor or pickup,” says Fred Whitford, head of Purdue University Pesticide Programs. “You can hook as many wagons together as you want on your own property and still be legal. Whether it’s safe or not is another matter. But once you pull onto a roadway, you’re no longer legal. If you pull a baler and two wagons all behind a tractor down the road, you’re opening yourself up to liability issues in case of an accident.”

Key Points

• You are not allowed to pull more than two implements behind a tractor or truck.

• Plates and registration are required, even for homemade trailers.

• Park trucks and trailers far enough off the road to minimize chances of an accident.


Whitford and Mike Templeton, former Indiana State Police trooper and now a transportation consultant, Clayton, have opened the eyes of many farmers. Their goal is making people aware of what’s legal and not legal for farmers operating equipment on Hoosier roadways.

Whitford illustrated many of these situations in his newest publication, “Transporting Farm Equipment,” Purdue Extension bulletin PPP-83.

Quick facts

Here are questions and answers related to wagons and trailers pulled on roadways. The source is PPP-83.

Question: When is a farm wagon considered an “implement of agriculture”?

Answer: A farm wagon pulled by a tractor or truck to transport supplies to the field is an “implement of agriculture.” This assumes the towing speed generally doesn’t exceed 25 miles per hour. It doesn’t need a title, registration or license plate.

Question: Do small trailers need a certificate of title?

Answer: It’s not required if the gross weight of the loaded trailer or semi-trailer is less than 3,000 pounds, or when it’s not used on the highway.

Question: What about plates and registration?

Answer: Both plates and registration are required for trailers and semitrailers of any size. This includes homemade trailers. There’s one exception. A farm wagon or farm-type liquid or dry fertilizer tank trailer or fertilizer spreader that’s used to transport fertilizer from the dealer to the farm doesn’t need a plate if it’s pulled by a tractor or registered truck.

Question: Is it legal to park farm trucks along county roads when combining or planting?

Answer: It’s illegal to park farm trucks and trailers on shoulders for these purposes. However, law enforcement officers accept this situation as an accepted farm practice.

The problem comes if something goes wrong. This practice has resulted in fatal wrecks in Indiana. Legal action could arise in this situation. If you’re going to do it, park as far off the shoulder as possible. Park the truck and trailer with the flow of traffic and display flashing lights.

Editor’s note: This is not intended as legal advice. For specific questions, visit www.btny.purdue.edu/ppp or e-mail fwhitford@purdue.edu.

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Park safely: Ask yourself if motorists will be able to see your vehicle and get around safely if you park along a road.

This article published in the June, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.