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Slow-moving vehicles: Sharing the road safely

December 24, 2010

At the November, 2010 meeting of the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board, it was noted that there have been a number of recent vehicle collisions with Amish horse-drawn buggies in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties. Some of these buggies have failed to display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem shown with this article. By Vehicle and Traffic Law, SMVs are all vehicles that operate at 25 mph or less, including tractors, self-propelled farm equipment, road construction and maintenance equipment, and animal-powered vehicles. In New York State, a SMV emblem must be displayed on all vehicles that travel 25 mph or less. The symbol is an orange triangle with a red border.

With the Amish people, religious concerns may be a factor, but for safety, and compliance with New York State laws, the SMV emblem and other requirements of article 375-36 should be observed. When motorists encounter a SMV, they should slow down, increase following distances, and be alert for turns into fields, and be aware that SMV operators may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow. They should also be aware that animal-powered vehicles may make unanticipated movements.

The use of such emblem shall be in addition to any lighting devices, flags or other equipment required by law. It must be placed in the middle of the back end, located two to six feet above the road, and shall be maintained so as to be visible from anyone approaching a slow moving vehicle from the rear. If mud, dirt, or manure obscures its visibility, it does not meet the requirement of the law. Each piece of agricultural equipment, whether self-propelled or used in combination, shall separately display a slow-moving vehicle emblem.

The law was amended effective January 1, 2009 to require self-propelled agricultural equipment operated on public roadways after dark and when visibility is less than 1000 feet, regardless of time of day, to be equipped with;

-Properly mounted signaling devices

-Two red reflectors mounted at the same height on the rear, as far apart as possible

-Two lighted white colored headlights on the front

-One red tail lamp on the rear as far left as possible

-Two amber lamps at least 42 inches high visible from the front and rear

The slow-moving vehicle emblem is not for recreational vehicles that are not engaged in agricultural activities and it cannot be placed on stationary objects such as mailboxes or driveway posts.

This and all "Did You know" articles can be found on the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board website,

Dave Werner can be reached at



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