The Dangers of Slow-Moving Vehicles
When there is a collision involving a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) usually the regular motorist is blamed for reasons such as driving too fast or not paying attention. But studies have shown that a normal driver does not have the human capabilities to avoid a collision when it comes to slow moving vehicles.
A slow-moving vehicle is a vehicle with a top speed of 25 miles-per-hour. The most common type of SMVs are farm vehicles. Although they are most commonly found in rural areas, they often need to use the same roads as urban traffic to access their fields. Due to the fact there is such a different speed between SMV and regular motorist, it can often make it very difficult for a driver to judge how fast they are moving. SMVs are often not equipped with proper lighting making it even harder for driver’s to see them on highways. At night, drivers will often see headlights and assume that the vehicle is driving at highway speeds because they cannot asses that it is a SMV.
According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System through NHTSA, there were 82 fatal crashes involving SMV in the United States in 2013. Due to the dangers associated with these vehicles, a SMV emblem was created to help warn motorist and give them plenty of time to avoid a collision after a study revealed that more than half of these of incidents involving SMV were rear-end collisions. The emblem is a fluorescent red-orange triangle with a retroreflective border that allows it to become visible with headlights.
In order to avoid these collisions, there are a few things that both drivers and operators of small moving vehicles can do:
-Be patient. Do not pass a slow-moving vehicle unless they pull completely off the side of the road for you.
-Yield to wide vehicles, and only pass if there is a safe option.
-Pass SMVs with caution or wait until the operator has pulled off the road. Be mindful that vehicles behind you may try to pass as well. Do not speed up to pass unless you can see clearly ahead of you and the vehicle you are attempting to pass. If there are hills or curves that prevent you from seeing clearly, do not pass.
-Do not pass in designated “Do not pass zones.” You should also not pass within 100 feet of an intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge or elevated structure or tunnel.
-Do not assume that if a SMV veers to the right, it is allowing you to pass. Because of their large size, if the operator is making a left hand turn, they may swing out to the right.
-Georgia law requires you to place a slow-moving vehicle reflector on any machinery you have that travels 25 mph or slower. Have the triangle pointed up and clearly visible for other drivers.
-Mark the edges of your machinery with reflective tape and reflectors. Consider installing retrofit lighting to help with visibility.
-Have your vehicle lights on, except for your rear spotlights when traveling on the road. Rear spotlights can often be mistaken for headlights.
-Avoid driving on roads during rush hours or during bad weather. Do not drive in the dark, before sunrise, or after sunset.
-If you are traveling a long distance, consider using pilot cars with an orange flag out of the windows.
-Consider installing mirrors on your SMV to help you see other motorist around you better.