Slow-moving vehicle speed limit raised to 39 mph

Effective Wednesday, slow-moving vehicles such as farm tractors and other equipment will be able to travel at higher speeds on New York roads.

Changes to Subdivision 36 of Section 375 of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law raises the speed at which slow-moving vehicles can travel from 25 to 39 mph. The equipment must have the recognizable orange triangular sign indicating that it’s a slow-moving vehicle (SMV). Under existing state law, the orange SMV sign is required only for equipment that travels at speeds of no more than 25 mph, but with the new changes, the SMV emblem will be required for vehicles capable of traveling up to 39 mph.

As part of the law, a speed identification symbol (SIS) will be developed by the transportation commissioner. The new emblem will indicate how fast each piece of equipment has been designed by the manufacturer to travel and will be required to be attached along with the slow-moving vehicle triangle on the rear of machinery designed to travel over 25 mph but less than 40 mph.

The law was changed because construction equipment, farm tractors and other vehicles are being designed to travel at speeds higher than 25 mph. Drivers often do not anticipate how slow farm and construction equipment travels and therefore do not start to slow their vehicle as they approach the implements.

The revision to the law requires that farm machinery and implements of husbandry and other machinery including road construction and maintenance machinery designed to operate at a speed greater than 25 mph but less than 40 mph, 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 and a speed identification symbol.

Furthermore, if an agricultural tractor that is designed by its manufacturer to operate at a speed between 25 and 40 mph and is towing, pulling or otherwise drawing another unit, such as a hay wagon or manure spreader, that unit of farm machinery must also display a SMV emblem and an SIS that is the same as the SIS that is displayed on the tractor.

Additionally, when an agricultural tractor is designed to operate between 25 and 40 mph and is being operated on a street or highway at a speed greater than 25 mph, the operator shall possess some documentation published or provided by the manufacturer indicating the maximum speed at which the manufacturer designed the tractor to operate.

One last thing — the use of the SMV emblem and the newly required speed identification symbol for any purpose other than on the farm machinery and other farm equipment being towed, or on applicable construction equipment, is in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law. This includes using either symbol as a clearance marker for a driveway or mailbox or for any other purpose than its intended use.

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