Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

February 25, 2009

Farmers Reminded of Changes to Slow Moving Vehicle Laws

Slow Moving Vehicle and Lighting Changes Went into Effect Jan. 1, 2009

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker, along with members of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today reminded members of the farm community of several recent changes made by the Legislature in regards to the use of Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblems and lighting. The changes to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law went into effect on January 1, 2009.

"It is important for all of us to stay on top of any and all changes to the law," Commissioner Hooker said. "These changes are the result of a tragic accident in Otsego County involving a slow moving farm vehicle. We hope this message informs or reminds farmers and operators of slow moving vehicles of the new laws and requirements that are in place in order to help prevent another farm equipment related tragedy from happening here in New York State."

Commissioner David J. Swarts of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the GTSC said, "Each year there are many needless crashes involving slow moving vehicles of all types across our state. These new provisions of the law, as well as a heightened awareness by all motorists of the challenges of traveling with these highway users, will go a long way in increasing highway safety."

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Astrid C. Glynn said, "This expanded use of emblems and lighting will help draw motorists’ attention to slow moving vehicles that may be sharing the roadway. With the passage of these three new laws, Governor David Paterson has shown the importance of balancing the needs of motorists, farm workers and all roadway users, while enhancing safety."

New York State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said, "Throughout the year, members of the New York State Police investigate numerous motor vehicle crashes that could have been prevented. This legislation increases the visibility of slow moving vehicles and will enhance the safety of motorists across New York State."

The following is a summary of three new laws, as well as lighting requirements that pertain to slow moving vehicles. For the exact language of the new laws, please refer to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law at

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 100, paragraph (d): The law now pertains to every agricultural tractor, self-propelled implement of husbandry, and towed, mounted or semi-mounted implement of husbandry. "Implement of husbandry" means a vehicle designed or adapted exclusively for agricultural, horticultural or livestock raising operations or for lifting or carrying an implement of husbandry.

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375, subdivision 36, paragraph (b): Farm machinery and implements of husbandry designed to operate at 25 mph or less, traveling on a public highway during day or night, whether self-propelled or used in combination, shall each separately display a slow-moving-vehicle emblem as specified by law. The previous law required an SMV emblem on either the tractor or the vehicle being towed, but not both.

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 376, subdivision 1, paragraph (a): It is unlawful to operate, drive, or park self-propelled agricultural equipment on any public highway or street during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise and during other times as visibility for a distance of 1,000 feet ahead of or behind such agricultural equipment is not clear, unless such agricultural equipment is equipped with approved lamps that are lighted and in good working condition.

Lighting Requirements for Self-Propelled Agricultural Equipment: When lighting is required, all self-propelled agricultural equipment shall also be equipped in accordance with New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law’s lighting requirements, which are as follows:

§ Head lamps: must be two white lights on the front of the equipment, at the same level and as far apart as practicable

§ Tail lamps: must be one red light at the rear of the equipment and as far to the left as practicable

§ Combined hazard warning and turn signal lamps: must be two amber lights at least 1.1 meters (or 42 inches) high at the same level, as far apart as practicable, and visible from both the front and rear

§ Rear reflectors: must be two red lights at the rear of the equipment, at the same level, and as far to the left as practicable

Agricultural Safety Specialist, James Carrabba, of the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, said, "NYCAMH works with farmers from every part of New York. Many of these farmers have told us that one of the most significant safety issues they face is traveling over the road with their tractors and equipment. Something that farmers can do to help make their roadway travel safer is to make sure that all agricultural machinery that travels over the road is properly lighted and marked."

In addition to the announcing the changes in the law, the Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Motor Vehicles and Transportation, the New York State Police, the GTSC and NYCAMH, will collectively be launching a public education campaign aimed at educating both SMV users as well as general motorists. The program is anticipated to include published materials, website information and other components to be announced at a later date.

In 2007, there were 59 accidents involving SMVs that resulted in 17 personal injuries in New York State. Farm equipment usually moves 25 miles per hour (mph) or less in areas where the speed limit may be posted at 55 mph, leaving little time for approaching traffic to react. According to the National Safety Council, roadway collisions that involve farm vehicles on U.S. roads total more than 15,000 per year. More than two-thirds of those collisions involve the farm vehicle being hit from behind and over 90 percent occur in the daylight and on dry roads. Usually, when a fatality occurs, the victim is the tractor operator.

Slow Moving Vehicle emblems must always be kept clean and must be replaced when faded. It is illegal to use SMV emblems as driveway or mailbox markers, which can confuse the meaning of the SMV emblem and lead to its loss of effectiveness as a warning device.

For questions about the New York State Vehicle and Traffic law or the changes to the law that went into effect this year, contact your local New York State Police Troop Traffic Section.

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) offers a variety of farm safety and health services to the agricultural community, including roadway safety presentations to agricultural audiences. For specific information on agricultural machinery and roadway safety, contact Jim Carrabba at 800-343-7527 x239 or All NYCAMH safety services are voluntary, available at no cost, and strictly confidential.

For additional information on SMV emblems, please refer to the State Vehicle and Traffic Regulations Title 15 Part 68 Slow-Moving Vehicle Emblem (15 NYCRR 68). For additional information on required lighting equipment, refer to the State Vehicle and Traffic Regulations Title 15 Part 43 Motor Vehicle Lighting (15 NYCRR 43.9) Section 43.9 Lighting Requirements on agricultural equipment. These regulations can be found at and selecting the Department of Motor Vehicles.

2009 Press Releases