Sheriff urges road safety caution in spring

Staff reports
The Chronicle-Express

Stay alert for farm vehicles, buggies, and bicycles as the growing season begins

As the spring planting season begins, be alert for the orange SMV triangle on the back of farm vehicles and buggies.

YATES COUNTY – On rural roads, does less traffic mean fewer hazards? According to Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, special rural hazards do exist, especially in the springtime when slow moving vehicles (SMVs), like farm machinery and agriculture equipment, are using the roadways to get to fields for plowing, cultivating and planting.

“When traveling across rural New York State this spring, we encourage motorists to slow down when approaching farm equipment and all SMV’s,” said Spike.

These slow movers bear the bright orange/red reflective triangle that is an indication of traveling less than 25 mph. In addition, if the SMV can travel between 25 and 40 mph it also must have the speed indication symbol (SIS) emblem.

Motorists need to understand the importance of sharing the road with this equipment that is traveling at a slower pace. Typically, rear end collisions can occur when a car encounters an SMV from behind, and the motor vehicle driver fails to perceive the “closure collision time,” causing a dangerous situation to occur.

Some 80% of SMV collisions occur in daylight hours when the SMV is struck from behind. A motorist traveling at 55 mph approaching a farm tractor traveling at 15 mph takes only seven seconds to travel 400 feet and collide. Farm tractors, farm equipment and animal drawn vehicles (buggy), as well as bicycles cannot easily maneuver out of the way of traffic, or speed up like motor vehicles can.

Motorists need to immediately slow down when encountering the SMV triangle symbol and be alert for an unexpected turns into a field. Patience is virtue, and do not pass until it is safe and legal to do so. It is important to know your traffic environment, as some areas of the state are more prone to SMVs sharing the road than others.

Additionally motorists need to be aware that distracted driving has become a major issue nationwide, and the risk increases in rural areas when encountering an SMV. Rural area driving requires full attention and focus. Cell phone use and texting is illegal and dangerous. It is also important to wear seat belts, to observe the speed limits and warning signs, be aware of animals, especially deer and livestock, and be alert for SMV’s on the rural roadways.