Laws for Slow-Moving Vehicle Signs

By Becky Martinez

A vehicle traveling at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour is a collision hazard on roadways. Faster cars can come up behind them causing rear-end crashes. Accidents can be head-on if a faster vehicle tries to pass the slower one quickly. To keep the roadways safe, laws have been created regarding the proper use of slow moving vehicle emblems. These emblems act as a warning so drivers have enough time to slow down before reaching, or hitting, the slow-moving vehicle.

SMV Restrictions

According to the Ohio Revised Code (which is similar to many other state's vehicle codes for slow-moving vehicle signs) and the National Ag Safety Database, slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems are restricted to use on animal-pulled vehicles such as a horse and carriage, farm machinery, and road construction machinery when it is not guarded by flag men or people working in a designated construction zone. Farm machinery is specifically defined by the Ohio Revised Code as the machines used in planting, harvesting, and caring for agricultural goods. Farm machinery includes trailers that transport agricultural products to a storage area. When bearing the SMV emblem, these vehicles are prohibited from traveling more than 25-miles-per hour even if they are capable of reaching higher speeds.

Proper Placement

SMV emblems are a standard, red-orange fluorescent, equilateral triangle with a red reflective border. By law, they must measure a minimum of 13.8 inches across. SMV emblems are to be mounted, point up, on the back of the vehicle as close to the center as possible. Proper mountings should be between two to six feet from the ground; they are not permitted to be placed higher than 10 feet from the ground. An SMV emblem must be visible from a distance of 500 feet. If one slow moving vehicle is pulling another, the emblem must be mounted on the rear vehicle. SMV emblems must comply with the standards agreed upon by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. If they begin to fade, they must be replaced.

Illegal Uses

It is illegal to place an SMV emblem on a still object. For instance, they are not to be placed on mailboxes or used as markers for driveways. According to the National Ag Safety Database, caution signs, reflectors or reflective tape should be used on these objects instead. According to the Ohio Revised Code, it is also prohibited to place a slow moving vehicle emblem on a stationary vehicle that is being transported by another means of transportation on a highway.