Farm machinery will still require slow-moving vehicle signs
By Diego Flammini
Farm equipment on New York roads can travel a little faster this year.
On Friday, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S6746, which increases the speed farm equipment operators can drive machinery on state roads.
State Sen. Pam Helming introduced the bill in June 2017 because new pieces of equipment “are being designed to travel at speeds above 25 mph and some are even designed to travel at speeds greater than 35 mph,” the bill says.
Previous law kept farm equipment speeds to 25 mph (40 km/h). Now that the government passed the bill, farm machinery can travel up to 35 mph (56 km/h).
The law will take effect in about 90 days, and farm machinery will still require slow-moving vehicle signs.
The bill also directs the transportation commissioner to develop a new symbol that can be affixed to farm, construction and other slow-moving vehicles along with the orange triangle. The symbol should alert motorists of how fast the equipment can travel.
Lawmakers hope allowing equipment to travel faster and new symbols will help decrease the frequency of accidents.
“Motorists fail to adequately react and respond to when they’re driving around farm equipment,” Helming told Finger Lakes Daily News. “Allowing farm equipment to travel a little faster on our roads may help with that.”
Tractor-related incidents accounted for 13 of 27 farm-related fatalities in 2010, the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine & Health says. Nine were rollovers and four were runover incidents.
A commitment to safety, however, requires cooperation from farmers and motorists.
Vehicle and equipment operators need to be on the same page, said Thor Oechsner, a cash crop producer from Newfield, N.Y.
“I think the speed increase is fine as long as everyone learns to be careful,” he told Farms.com. “Motorists seem to be in such a rush to save 30 seconds that they’re willing to put their lives and (farmers’) lives on the line. If everyone learns to take safety seriously, then this speed increase shouldn’t be a big deal.”