SMV Operators

SMV operators are at a disadvantage traveling busy highways.

Though only 19 out of every 100 Americans live in rural areas, more than half of fatal roadway accidents take place in rural areas, according to the United States Department of Transportation.

Most crashes between slow moving vehicles (SMVs) and motor vehicles occur during daylight hours and in good weather, according to the Rural Road Safety Study conducted by the Maryland Soybean Board. SMV operators must use extreme caution when traveling on a public road.

Check out the resources section for posters, videos, and more to share with your SMV drivers.

Safety Starts with You

Start by checking that your equipment is road ready.

  • Brakes. Brake pedals are locked together
  • Mirrors. Mirrors are adjusted for clear vision
  • Tires. Inspect the condition of your tires, that the fasteners are tight and tires are inflated to the maximum recommended pressure for long distance travel.
  • Hitch. Check your hitch connections, including locking devices.
  • Load. Make sure the load is secure, balanced, and equipped with brakes. Also make sure it’s light enough for your vehicle to safely handle.
  • Route. Check your route for current traffic, road maintenance, clearance by width for fencing and guardrails and by height for power lines, trees and bridges. An alternative route may be the best option.

Stand Out and Be Seen

Motorized vehicles that travel 25 mph or less must be clearly identified as SMVs using recognizable lighting and marking to decrease the risk of injury to themselves and the public.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) developed Standards for Lighting and Marking. New equipment manufactured in the U.S. will be equipped to meet these standards, but older or international equipment may need to be retrofit.

  • SMV emblem. One visible at 1,000 feet mounted to the rear and 2–10 feet above the ground.
  • Headlights. Two white lights mounted at the same level.
  • Tail lamps. Two red lights mounted and facing toward the rear.
  • Hazard flashers. Two or more lamps with amber color to the front and red color to the rear.
  • Turn indicators. Two amber to the front and two red-colored lights to the rear mounted with flashers.
  • Reflective markers. Two red reflectors (on rear outside corners) and two yellow reflectors (on the front outside corners) of the machine.
  • Conspicuity Material. Red reflective and red-orange fluorescent color visible to mark the rear; yellow reflective material to mark the front.

Drive on the Offensive

  • Time of Day. Avoid the busy times of the day as possible. Slow moving vehicles on roads during early morning or late afternoon while people are hurrying to and from work creates traffic problems.
  • Courtesy. Try to be as watchful of others as possible. Let the high-speed traffic go first. Your best manners on the highway will be the first safe practice to follow.
  • Blind Spots. There are locations that pose problems with visibility with large equipment. Use mirrors and backup cameras to increase your ability to see other vehicles while operating on the road.
  • Hazards. Be on the lookout for potential hazards such as soft shoulders, narrow right-of-ways, loose gravel, potholes and deep ruts.
  • Safety Equipment. This includes wearing a seat belt when one is provided and sunglasses on sunny days to help cut down the glare.
  • Stay Alert. Don’t operate a farm vehicle if you have been drinking alcohol, taking drugs, are over-tired or ill.
  • Follow the Rules. While exempt from size, weight and licensing laws, farm equipment must follow all state and local traffic laws, including laws on speed, signaling, signage and allowing other traffic to pass.

Remember to keep me clean, bright and reflective. If I break or fade in a couple years, replace me. I like looking good to keep you seen.