MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As farm activity increases in the region, drivers are urged to use caution when encountering slow-moving vehicles. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), it’s illegal to pass these vehicles in a no-passing zone.

Slow-moving vehicles are vehicles that operate at less than 40 miles per hour. These include tractors, self-propelled farm equipment, road construction, and maintenance machinery, and animal-powered vehicles.

Montgomery County Sheriff Jeffery T. Smith also advised New Yorkers to slow down and pay attention when encountering farm vehicles. He said it’s important to treat them just like any other vehicle on the road and not treat them as a nuisance.

“The rules of the road apply, even if you’re in a hurry and stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. Please don’t drive recklessly,” said Smith.

Smith said slowing down to follow a tractor going 20 miles per hour for one mile will only add three minutes to your trip. The width of farm equipment can also make it difficult for the operator to see traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

“Most of the time, that farm equipment doesn’t travel more than a quarter-mile between fields,” said Smith. “There is a good chance that the farm operator is looking for a field access road, or a wide point, or somewhere to safely pull off to allow traffic to pass.”

When encountering a slow-moving vehicle, drivers should:

  • Slow down immediately
  • Increase following distance
  • Be alert and watch for unexpected turns
  • Pass with care only when it is safe and legal to do so
  • Be aware that animal-powered vehicles can make unanticipated movements
  • Be aware that equipment in tow may sway on the road
  • Remember slow-moving vehicle operators may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow

According to the DMV, slow-moving vehicles are required to have a Speed Identification Symbol (SIS) and the “slow-moving vehicle triangle” displayed on the back of the vehicle. It is also illegal to put slow-moving vehicle emblems on stationary objects, such as mailboxes or driveway posts.

Animal-powered vehicles should display either a slow-moving vehicle triangle or a lighted lantern with a red lens near the left edge of the vehicle. The vehicle also should have 72 square inches of high-quality white or whitish-gray reflective tape.

Under state law, self-propelled agricultural equipment can be used on public roads after dark and when visibility is less than 1,000 feet when it has two white headlamps, one red tail light on the rear, and two amber lamps visible from the front and rear.