Dear General Public:
I’m writing to you about that funny-looking sign that you see sometimes – the one with the orange center surrounded by red edges in the shape of a triangle, but with cut-off corners. It’s officially known as a Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) Emblem and is used to indicate that the vehicle to which it’s attached is going under 25 mph. Yeah, I know – sometimes you see it going faster that that … and sometimes used to indicate a driveway/mailbox, etc. That’s just not right!
As more cars were on the road and speeds were increasing 60-plus years ago, there were more and more fatal accidents between them and slow-moving vehicles. Once the statistics were reviewed and it became clear that most of these accidents were rear-end collisions, the realization hit that we needed some type of signage to let drivers know when they might be approaching one of those “slow-moving vehicles.” The result was the SMV Emblem, developed by the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Ohio State University in 1962.
Testing of various designs showed that a triangularly-shaped emblem with a 12-inch-high florescent orange center and three 1¾-inch-wide reflective borders was most effective for day and night visual identification. The “cut off corners” were a result of field testing by a graduate student from Erie County: He took it home and used it on the farm over Thanksgiving break. Those 1950s/1960s-era tractors were rear-mount and the corners of the sign put numerous tears in his coveralls as he got on and off. (His mother was not thrilled!) Cutting off the corners of the sign solved that problem!
Yes, I know it can be a pain to get behind a tractor/wagon, especially if you’re in a hurry. However, we can liken it to stoplights. No, I’m not excited about going through town and hitting red lights any more than you are, but we stop … because it’s the law. Similarly, we slow down for those slow-moving vehicles in front of us …
Fall is here and harvest has begun. You will be seeing more of those Slow Moving Vehicle emblems on the roadways as our farmers harvest their crops and haul them to their destinations. Please be patient!! An accident slows everyone down … and can result in serious injuries.
OSU Extension, Shelby County