Rural Drivers Must Share the Road With Tractors | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A crash between an SUV and a tractor in southern Pitt County, North Carolina (NC), left the man driving the farm vehicle dead and the driver of the passenger vehicle under arrest. The deadly rear-end collision happened at around 9:15 am on May 1, 2018, and it illustrates the need for drivers to watch for and share the road safely with oversized and slow-moving vehicles.



State Highway Patrol troopers responded to the scene of the fatal wreck on Highway 11 near the intersection with Futrell Robinson Road. They found the 72-year-old tractor operator dead and the man behind the wheel of the SUV suffering from minor injuries.

After conducting their initial investigation, troopers charged the surviving driver with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. The traffic offense can be made under two provisions of the North Carolina General Statutes.

First, section 20-141(m) of the NCGS states that


The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the foregoing limits shall not relieve the operator of a vehicle from the duty to decrease speed as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway, and to avoid injury to any person or property.


Alternately, section 20-152(a), which prohibits tail gaiting, states, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

It is unclear from news reports how fast the SUV driver was going or what prevented him from seeing, slowing down for, and moving around the slower-moving tractor. The deadly rear-end collision on Highway 11 happened in a rural section of Pitt County, where driver should expect to encounter farm vehicles from time to time.

The NC Department of Agriculture allows farmers and agricultural business to register and license tractors and similar special-use vehicle for highway operation. If the man who lost his life in this crash or his employer had the proper permits, the SUV driver being charged with causing the fatal wreck would mostly likely owe the deceased man’s family compensation and damage for negligently causing a wrongful death. Consulting with a caring and experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney would help the man’s loved ones understand and exercise their rights to hold the other driver accountable.