Tractors on the Highway

27 Aug, 2010

I have always had a little pet peeve when it comes to tractors on the highway. I’m mostly referring to front-loaders* and dump trucks, because I pass them every day.

Yesterday while driving to work I was coming up on a dump truck. Not wanting to drive behind because of previous bad experiences (a rock flew up and cracked my windshield on two separate occasions) I began to over take him.

Then I heard a sound I could only describe as a meteor bursting through my car.

It was a rock. And it came from under the dump truck.

Note: This isn't my windshield. I brought my car in to be fixed before I could take a picture.

That’s 3  cracks on my windshield from rocks on the ground that fly up as dump trucks run over them.

The first couple of cracks I chalked up to bad luck. Now I’m really considering how often this must happen to other drivers.

There must be a lot of windshield cracks out there from this same effect.

In fact, I asked my insurance broker out of curiousity if this is a regular claim.

“You wouldn’t even believe how many claims we get.”

Why hasn’t anyone acted to correct this?! Insurance companies are spending a fortune and it’s creating major headache for you and me. Not to mention the safety ramifications of flying rocks while driving.

Obviously the government cannot ban these vehicles from the highway, but surely something can be done to prevent these problems from happening in the future.

This is dangerous. I am a composed driver, but if my mother was behind the wheel when that rock his my car there would have been panic. There could have been an accident on the highway yesterday. The kind that could be avoided.

Perhaps regulating better mud flaps to deflect rogue stones. Perhaps limiting the speed of these trucks to a speed that will not catapult rocks as they drive over them.

Alternatively I could stop using the highway and take a route that takes four times longer but why should I have to drive the long and painful route?

What can we do to fix this problem?

* It came to my attention yesterday that front-loaders, which are always driving along the shoulder of the highway, may not be driving legally (someone told me a vehicle must be able to reach the speed limit to be allowed to use that roadway. Not sure how best to verify this) and that they have to be loaded on a flat-bed truck to be carried on the highway. Consequently when these tractors are givin’er on the shoulder of the road, they are pushing loose stones out on to the highway.

About the author


I am an ex-pat Newfoundlander who has uprooted and moved to the big city of Toronto. I develop web applications for work and for fun. I play ultimate and ice hockey year-round and camp every chance my girlfriend will let me.


  1. Webber
    August 27, 2010

    What about a giant flap located a bit behind the Truck, kinda like mudflaps. That way, when a rock is shot from a tire, it hits the flap, loses its velocity, and drops?

  2. August 27, 2010

    That’s kind of what I am thinking. We should develop one and pitch it to the government 😛

    Do you have a spare semi we can test this on?

  3. Chris Kidney
    August 27, 2010

    Hey Greg, nice site. About the idea that tractors may not be driving legally, I’ve pasted a link to the NL Highway Traffic Act. Section 111 subsection (2) would lead me to believe that they are allowed to drive on the side of the road.

  4. August 27, 2010

    Wow Chris, great find!

    It doesn’t really indicate that they are to keep driving along the curb though. It just says they would have to pull over.

    And the only thing it really says about the shoulder of the highway is that it is reserved for pedestrians.

  5. August 27, 2010

    Sorry guys. You’re misapplying rules for personal vehicles with those of commercial vehicles. There is a whole other set of legislation for vehicles doing construction on a highway.

    ” this Part does not apply to persons, vehicles and other equipment while actually engaged in highway construction or maintenance work upon, under or over the surface of a highway while at the site of the work when it is reasonably necessary for the purposes of the construction or work that this Part be not complied with or be contravened”

    interestingly enough:

    “a person riding an animal or driving an animal-drawn vehicle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties that a driver of a vehicle has under this Part.”

  6. Pugh
    August 27, 2010

    Unfortunately, it’s not costing your insurance company anything to pay out those claims. Instead, it’s your deductible and increase in premiums over the next few years that pays for the repair to your glass.

    You might also be getting ripped off in the long term by some glass companies. Kristin’s rear glass, which was totally smashed a few months ago inquired how much the glass would cost to replace without going through insurance. It wasn’t cheap, so she made a claim. The bill to her insurance policy was (I believe) twice as much as what was originally quoted when she wanted to pay out-of-pocket. Suspicious?

    Aside from the digression, Section 164 of the Highway Traffic Act says:

    164. Except when entering or leaving a driveway or lane or when entering upon or leaving land adjacent to a highway, a driver shall not drive a vehicle upon a sidewalk or paved shoulder.

    Backhoes doing 50 km/h on the shoulder and crossing on ramps is scary as hell…

  7. August 27, 2010

    I wasn’t go to go through insurance if it was going to affect my premiums. I doubled checked into it and I am allowed 1 glass claim over a certain period without it affecting my premiums.

    My deductible was about $100, but I figure the cost of the windshield is much more.

    So what you are saying Ryan is that these tractors driving on the should are indeed breaking a law? How is it that this happens on a daily basis?

  8. Chris Kidney
    August 27, 2010


    I took it that the tractors that Greg originally described were these ones you see driving around on the side of the roads just traveling from place to place. These would not be in the course of construction on the road, therefore would fall under the rules of the road section of the HTA.

    Greg: I think you hit the nail on the head with your last comment. If the police are not going to ticket these vehicles, then it does not really matter if it is illegal or not.

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