SMV emblems can be life-saving on rural roads

smv emblemFarm equipment is sometimes wider than rural roads, and it’s built for power, not speed. With planting season in full swing across Virginia, motorists should watch for triangular orange emblems on the back of farm equipment.

State law requires that all farm tractors and self-propelled farm machinery that typically travels slower than 25 mph display a triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem on the rear of the vehicle when being driven on a public roadway.

“Motorists who see an SMV emblem on equipment ahead of them need to take heed, slow down and watch to see if that vehicle is about to turn,” said Sam Rooks, vice president of underwriting and policy services for the Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.

Before attempting to pass—never in a no-passing zone—determine whether the equipment operator is preparing to make a turn. Rooks noted that the closure time between a car traveling 60 mph and a farm vehicle traveling 10 mph is only a few seconds. Consequently, in matters of rural road safety, a little patience goes a long way.

The SMV emblem law is one that S. Bruce Phillips, a Southampton County cotton, soybean and wheat farmer, takes seriously.

“All of my farm equipment has an SMV (emblem) on it, but I always have someone drive a truck in front of me with flashing amber lights,” Phillips said. He said he’s not taking any chances, because he moves farm equipment on narrow, curvy roads, and drivers don’t always notice the SMV emblems.

“Motorists need to be aware that if they don’t heed SMV emblems and exercise caution on the roadways, they run the risk of hurting a farmer or themselves” or damaging their vehicles and the farm equipment in a collision, he said.

Phillips said he tries to avoid moving equipment during peak traffic times and tries to avoid driving on heavily used roads like U.S. Route 460 and U.S. Route 58.


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