Spring is here and with more and more people getting vaccinated for COVID-19, we can expect more traffic on the road this spring and summer. Along with more traffic, you can also expect slow-moving farm vehicles or other types of utility vehicles (SMVs) on roadways as well. A slow-moving vehicle is defined as any vehicle traveling at under 40mph in a 55mph speed zone. Is your immediate reaction to one of these to pass as soon as possible? Probably. But, Delaware County Sheriff Craig Dumond warns drivers to "safely share the road with these types of vehicles".

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According to Sheriff Dumond, over 90 % of SMV collisions occur during daylight hours and more than two-thirds of the collisions involve the farm vehicle being hit from behind. These accidents occur when drivers try to pass slower-moving farm vehicles and don't properly judge the amount of time needed to pass those vehicles. Sheriff Dumond provides the following example:

When a motorist is traveling at 55 mph and rapidly approaches a farm tractor traveling at 15 mph. It takes only seven seconds to travel 400 feet and collide with the farm tractor, equipment and/or animal drawn vehicle (buggy).

So now we understand better how dangerous it can be to pass unless it's clearly safe to do so but maybe you didn't know that it's illegal to pass slow-moving vehicles in a no-passing zone even though they are traveling at slower speeds. You have to wait for a dotted line where passing is allowed and for traffic to be clear.

Here are some safety rules from the Sheriff's Office to follow when you encounter a SMV:

 

  • Slow down immediately when they see or encounter a slow moving vehicle
  • Increase following distance
  • Be alert and watch for unexpected turns (*Left hand turns or possibly into fields)
  • Drive courteously…. Patience is virtue
  • DO NOT PASS until it is SAFE and LEGAL to do so
  • Be aware of horse-drawn buggies in our local area that may  make unexpected movements
  • Remember that SMVs operators may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow
  • Be aware the equipment in tow may sway

We all know that getting stuck behind a SMV can be annoying, being impatient and passing it when it's not safe to do so is not worth risking anyone's life for so take a breath, be patient and pass when it's safe to do so.

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