Longer lasting SMV emblems required by September

URBANA—The deadline is quickly approaching for Illinois farmers to begin using new state-mandated slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblems on their farm machinery.

A state law passed three years ago requires the use of brighter, longer-lasting SMV emblems on all vehicles operated on Illinois public roads and designed and adapted exclusively for agricultural, horticultural and livestock operations. The new emblems must be in place by Sept. 1, said Bob Aherin, University of Illinois Extension safety specialist.

“Farmers should purchase and use only SMV emblems that meet American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) standard S276.5,” Aherin said. “Look for this standard designation on the emblem. You cannot use an SMV emblem that meets an older version of the ASAE standard such as S276.3 or S276.4.”

According to Aherin, these new-generation emblems will last much longer and are 10 times brighter than previous versions. They dramatically improve the visibility of farm equipment on public roadways, helping to reduce the risk of collision.

Enhancing the visibility of agricultural equipment on public roadways is an ongoing concern for the farming community, Aherin explained. In a seven-year study, Illinois averaged 235 to 240 accidents per year involving farm equipment, with 100 serious injuries and six deaths each year.

Because farms are getting larger, producers must often travel farther on narrow rural roads that were constructed decades earlier, he added. New farm equipment is larger and can extend into the opposing lane of traffic. What’s more, the markings on older farm equipment can be poor or nonexistent.

All of these factors raise the risk for motorists, who are often unaware of the need for caution or do not see the equipment fast enough to react appropriately.

To cut this risk even more, Aherin and Illinois Farm Bureau Special Activities Manager Dave Patton advise farmers to take safety emblems a step further with additional markings not required by current state law.

“While motorists frequently take note of the reflective SMV emblem, they may be unable to gauge the width of farm equipment at night, occasionally clipping the extremities on an implement,” Aherin said.

Therefore, he and Patton recommend new packages of safety emblems, which contain additional red and fluorescent orange horizontal bars. They encourage farmers to place these 2- by 9-inch markings alternately at the rear of each implement, red to the outside, orange to the inside. Similarly sized amber reflectors should be mounted on the front within 16 inches of the left and right extremities and along the sides of the implement.

These markings and the new required SMV emblem packages are included in a FARM (Fewer Accidents with Reflective Materials) kit, which is available from county Farm Bureaus, some farm equipment dealers and farm supply stores in Illinois.

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