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

April 08, 2009

Drivers Urged to Share The Road With Slow-Moving Vehicles

April is Slow-Moving Vehicle Safety Month

Commissioner David J. Swarts of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) along with Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker, representatives from the Department of Transportation and the State Police as well as safety advocates from the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) and the Future Farmers of America today reminded motorists to share the road with slow-moving vehicles with safety and courtesy as well as reminded farmers of several changes to the State Vehicle and Traffic Law regarding slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems and lighting. Governor David Paterson has proclaimed April as "Slow Moving Vehicle Safety" month.

Slow-moving vehicles (SMVs) are all vehicles that operate at 25 mph or less, including: tractors; self-propelled farm equipment; road construction and maintenance machinery; and animal-powered vehicles. Motorists will typically encounter more agricultural slow-moving vehicles from April through October, when farmers are more apt to be planting, maintaining and harvesting crops.

"Every year, there are many preventable crashes involving farm equipment and other types of slow-moving vehicles across New York State," Commissioner Swarts said. "Today we urge all motorists to be aware, and properly share, the road with these vehicles, as well as make sure those who operate slow-moving vehicles adhere to the changes in law that will improve highway safety."

When encountering a SMV on the roadway, motorists should slow down immediately, increase traveling distance to create a safety buffer, be alert and watch for turns into fields, drive courteously and pass with care when it is safe and legal to do so. Motorists should also be aware that animal powered vehicles may make unanticipated movements and remember that SMV operators may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said, "Many farmers are eager to get into the fields and that means many will soon be on the road with plows, harrows and planters in tow. The sheer size of these implements, coupled with the slow speed at which they move, can cause sticky situations when approached or followed by an anxious or unaware driver. Instead of getting impatient, motorists should slow down, use caution and appreciate the work our farmers do."

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."

NYS law requires vehicles that travel 25 mph or less to have a slow-moving vehicle emblem placed in the middle of the back end and two to six feet above the road. The emblem must be kept clean and be replaced if faded. Each piece of agricultural equipment, whether self propelled or used in combination, shall separately display a slow-moving vehicle emblem. It is illegal to put SMV emblems on stationary objects - such as mailboxes or driveway posts.

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."

The GTSC is conducting a public education campaign aimed at educating both the general motoring public and SMV operators. In addition, our partners at Future Farmers of America (FFA), a nationwide organization of students and teachers that promotes agricultural education, will help raise awareness among their members.

Farm equipment usually moves 25 miles per hour or less in areas where the speed limit may be posted at 55 mph, leaving little time for approaching traffic to react. The unfortunate result is a needless crash. In 2007, according to the Institute of Traffic Safety Management and Research, there were 59 accidents involving SMVs that resulted in 17 personal injuries in New York State. Of those 59 vehicles, 27 were farm tractors, 31 were other types of farm equipment and one was a feed processing machine.

Capt. Jeffrey Raub of the New York State Police 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."

According to the National Safety Council, there are more than 15,000 crashes involving farm vehicles on U.S. roads each year. More than two-thirds of those collisions involve the farm vehicle being hit from behind and more than 90 percent occur in the daylight and on dry roads. When a fatality occurs, the victim is typically a tractor operator.

For more information regarding slow-moving vehicles, the SMV emblem and tips for sharing the road safely, please visit the Department of Agriculture and Markets web site (, the NYCAMH web site (, the Future Farmers of America web site (, the DMV's web site ( or the GTSC web site (

New York State is currently producing a "Share the Road" campaign, which will focus on the traffic rules and safety tips for bicyclists, in-line skaters, pedestrians, non-motorized scooter operators, motorcyclists and motorists traveling on public roadways in New York State. Sharing the road safely with SMVs will be part of that public-awareness effort.

2009 Press Releases