Wisconsin Department of Transportation Law of the Month—October
Motorists will need to share the road with farm equipment and other slow-moving vehicles during harvest season
During the fall harvest season, drivers may encounter slow-moving agricultural implements on rural roadways.
“To safely share the road, drivers should slow down immediately whenever they see a fluorescent orange slow-moving vehicle emblem on the rear of a tractor or other piece of equipment,” says Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Steve G. Krueger of the North Central Region-Wausau post. “They also must be alert, focused and patient while trying to pass slow-moving vehicles. It’s important that drivers can clearly see what’s ahead of a slow-moving vehicle before they try to pass it.”
To do their part in preventing crashes, farmers and other operators of slow-moving vehicles must follow safety regulations. According to state law, farm tractors, agricultural implements, animal-drawn vehicles or other vehicles that are normally operated at speeds below 25 miles-per-hour must display a “Slow Moving Vehicle” (SMV) sign on the left rear of the vehicle. In all cases—even when the vehicle is not a SMV—if it is operated during hours of darkness, the front and rear of the vehicle must have lights illuminated (white to the front, red to the rear). A citation for failure to display a SMV sign or a violation of the lighting requirement each costs $162.70.
Vehicles traveling slower than normal traffic must stay as far to the right-side of the roadway as practical. This does not mean slow vehicles must drive on the shoulder of the road although this is allowed if there is room to do so safely.
“Farmers and others using animal-drawn vehicles on a roadway have the same rights and responsibilities as operators of motor vehicles,” Captain Krueger says. “You should be careful not to frighten the animals. Do not sound your horn or flash your lights near them, and give the animals plenty of room when passing.”
Captain Krueger adds, “Caution, courtesy and common sense will go a long way to keeping our rural roadways safe during the harvest season.”