The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Fleet Safety Tip of the Week: Safely Driving Around Slow-Moving Vehicles

February 27, 2013

Are all your fleet drivers very familiar with the slow-moving vehicle symbol? It identifies vehicles that travel at a speed of 25 miles per hour or less. This symbol, displayed on the rear of the vehicle, is used most commonly to identify slow-moving, farm-operated equipment as well as horse-drawn carriages. The likelihood of encountering such a vehicle is greater in agricultural areas, particularly during harvest season, and in Amish country.

During the day, the fluorescent orange triangle in the center of the symbol is most visible to motorists approaching from the back. During the night, however, the reflective red border of the symbol is most visible.

Drivers need to readily recognize this symbol and respond with extreme caution.

Here are some tips, prepared by Ohio State University Extension farm management instructor Mike Hogan, to help drivers share the road with slow-moving farm equipment vehicles:

  • Be patient. The machinery operator will let you pass when there is room to get the equipment off the road.
  • Allow time and space to pass. Machinery might be longer and wider than it seems. Wagons and pulled machinery may swerve and need extra room to pass. The accident rate is twice as high when multiple wagons are being pulled.
  • Be sure to signal before passing and move to the passing lane far enough ahead of time to make sure the road is clear.
  • Don’t rely on your horn to warn farmers. The noise from tractors and other farm machinery often drowns out other sounds.
  • Remember, it takes longer for farm machinery to accelerate than it does for cars. Watch out for places where farm equipment enters or exits.
  • Don’t wait for farmers to signal you to pass, it is the driver’s decision to pass or not.

Also, keep in mind that horses drawing carriages can easily become frightened by fast-approaching vehicles. Here are some more tips from the Kentucky DMV:

  • Before passing, drivers should approach the carriage slowly and pass only when safe to do so or motioned by the carriage driver.
  • Blowing the vehicle horn should be avoided – it might frighten the animal and could lead to erratic behavior. 
  • Drivers should also watch for hand signals from the carriage operator indicating turns. 
  • Also use extreme caution when meeting a horse-drawn carriage traveling the opposite direction.

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