Drivers on county roads may be noticing some new signs in rural areas this fall.
The signs - which show a picture of a tractor and state "Farm machinery, caution" - are a project of Seneca County Farm Bureau.
"It's designed to increase awareness of farm machinery on a rural roadways and help promote safety," said Darren Frank, organization director for Farm Bureau in Seneca, Hancock, Hardin and Wyandot counties. "This is not the first time we put these signs up. We did it several years ago."
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
An employee of the Seneca County Engineer’s Office places a sign along a county road last week.
Fifty signs are being placed on Seneca County roads, while Hancock County is erecting 75 and Hardin County 30.
The number of signs varies because of funds available, she said. Each sign costs $30, which is being paid by Farm Bureau.
"But when we solicited members for donation, we have gotten a few donations," she said.
Iconic sign for slow-moving vehicles turns 50
By Vicki Johnson
The slow-moving vehicle emblem - the triangular one with a red border around an orange center - is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Actually, it's going to have two 50th anniversary parties, said Dee Jepsen, state agricultural safety leader for Ohio State University Extension.
Ohio is keeping its observance of 50 years low-key because national festivities are planned next year by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, which adopted the emblem in 1964.
"That's the cool part," Jepsen said. "Yes, it's 50, and did you know it was developed right here on campus? ... It was also the first national safety standard."
Created by OSU Extension, the sign has expanded in importance to become required as a safety feature on tractors and farm machinery worldwide. Any vehicle moving at 25 miles per hour or slower on the road, and any horse-drawn vehicles on the road, are required to have an SMV emblem mounted.
The emblem is required by the Ohio Revised Code when moving "implements of husbandry" and farm machinery on public roadways. Implements of husbandry are vehicles designed and adapted exclusively for agricultural, horticultural or livestock-raising operations.
It is to be used only on vehicles with a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. It should be removed or covered when a vehicle is being hauled instead of driven.
To be properly mounted, each sign must be visible to the rear and the triangle should be facing up. It should be mounted 10 degrees from vertical and 2-10 feet above the ground, and in the center of the vehicle or as far left-center as practical.
Signs do not have to be permanent, but must securely attached.
Farmers and drivers should note there is a different system called Speed Identification Symbol for tractors that travel faster than 25 mph. The SIS identifies the machinery's maximum speed, and can be used in conjunction with an SMV.
"When you think back to where we were 50 years ago, a lot of farmers didn't use the road too much," she said. "They just kind stayed in their area."
Jepsen said she talked to some older farmers who said there was a lot of skepticism about SMV emblems when they first were introduced.
"This was a big deal because some farmers didn't want to use it," she said.
Today, the sign is commonplace in the agriculture world.
"And yet we still have some in the general public that don't recognize what it is," she said.
Some people use the emblem inappropriately by placing it on stationary items such as fence posts or to mark driveway entrances.
"That kind of diminishes the whole purpose of the SMV for safety," she said. "They aren't respecting it for what it is."
Jepsen said the emblem has helped to greatly reduce the numbers of collisions between tractors and cars.
"Crashes continue to happen, but at least it's giving the driver a warning that something ahead of them is moving very slowly," she said.
According to OSU Extension's Agriculture Safety and Health program website, drivers have less than 6.5 seconds to react if they are driving 60 miles per hour and come within 400 feet of a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour.
The slow-moving vehicle emblem was created after research in the late 1950s showed most fatal tractor accidents happened because vehicles were moving slowly.
The research, which reviewed the previous 10 years, was conducted by Walter McClure and Ben Lamp, both of OSU's Department of Agricultural Engineering, to understand the causes of highway tractor collisions.
After the results were in, a research proposal was written by Ken Harkness and funded through the Automotive Safety Foundation in 1961 and 1962, which further focused on understanding SMV accidents. The research resulted in development of a unique SMV emblem.
Early data estimated 65 percent of motor vehicle accidents involving SMVs were rear-end collisions. The Ohio State Highway Patrol, county sheriffs and municipal police cooperated in the research by gathering detailed data on 708 accidents.
In 1962, Harkness supervised the design and testing of the SMV emblem. After testing various designs, a triangular-shaped emblem with a 12-inch-high fluorescent orange center and three 1 3/4 inch wide reflective borders was determined to be the most effective design for day and night visual identification.
The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. sponsored the debut of the SMV emblem in 1962 when an emblem mounted on the back of a farm wagon and towed by a Ford tractor traveled 3,689 miles from Portland, Maine, to San Diego, Calif.
The emblem was formally introduced during a safety seminar in 1962, and Carlton Zink of Deere and Company became an avid promoter. He played a major role in the adoption of the emblem by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
In 1963, Novice G. Fawcett, then OSU president, dedicated the SMV emblem to the public.
Also in 1963, the Agricultural Engineering Journal printed its first article with color illustrations about the SMV emblem and the National Safety Council promoted the adoption of the emblem.
In 1964, the emblem was adopted nationally by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. In less than two years, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio and Vermont adopted legislation requiring the emblem to be used on SMVs. Bill Stuckey, an Ohio Farm and Home Safety Committee member, spearheaded the adoption of the SMV emblem in Ohio.
In 1967, the Canadian Standards Association adopted the SMV emblem, and in 1971, the emblem became the first ASAE Standard to be adopted as a national standard by the American National Standards Institute.
During its 50 years, the SMV emblem has been adopted for use in other countries, and is now undergoing review to receive designation as an International Safety Standard.
The SMV is one of the most recognized emblems used by farmers and ranchers around the world.
"It is with great pride that Ohio can boast the development of this emblem by OSU faculty and students," the website said. "For 50 years, this emblem has been behind agricultural equipment and horse-drawn vehicles warning the motoring public of a slow moving vehicle."
The SMV sign is one aspect of a greater awareness for safety practices in agriculture.
Ohio averages 24 farm-related fatalities statewide each year, Jepsen said.
In the past 10 years, there have been 229 farm-related deaths in Ohio, 95 of which involved tractors or heavy machinery, she said.
"Some 41 percent of the farm-related deaths in Ohio over the past 10 years involved tractors, with tractor roll-overs among the leading cause of tractor-related farm deaths," she said. "Having a roll bar and seatbelts installed and both used each time a tractor is driven could likely have prevented some of these fatalities."
She said another safety measure is the concept of one-seat, one-rider, which would prevent incidents where extra riders fall off the tractor and are rolled over.
"Every farm has at least one tractor - regardless of the crops planted or the size of the farm operations," she said. "Farm machinery with moving or self-propelled parts is the No. 2 cause of injuries and fatalities statewide.
"That's why it's so important that we spread the word on getting the proper training to work around farm equipment and how working with properly-guarded equipment could potentially lessen the problem and save lives," she said.
"When we think about who gets injured on farms, the answer is everybody," she said. "The farm industry has workers both young and old and often has injuries to people that aren't typically included in other workforces."
Statewide statistics show 14 percent of fatalities were youth ages 20 and younger, and 40 percent were to people ages 61 and older.
"When you combine those numbers and you have over 50 percent of the farm-related fatalities happening to people outside the typical workforce age," she said. "We have to spread the word how hazardous the industry can be and how training is important."
Frank said the program came about as a request from a resident in Hancock County.
"It was really important to the board that we do this," she said.
Seneca County has some of the highest fatality rates from vehicle accidents in Ohio, she said, so the more aware drivers are, the better.
The engineers in the three counties have been supplying labor, hardware and posts.
The local Farm Bureau office is working with the office of County Engineer Mark Zimmerman to erect the signs.
"They have been great working with us," Frank said. "They're mostly on county roads because we haven't gone through ODOT to put them on state roads."
County employees started placing signs two or three weeks ago.
"They know the importance of getting them up before harvest," she said.
While on the subject of farm safety, Frank suggested farmers check the reflectivity of their slow-moving-vehicle signs.
"We want to remind the farmers to make sure their SMVs are updated and properly displayed," she said. "They do fade over time."
She said the triangular signs should be red with orange in the center. Farmers who have old or
faded signs can buy new ones at the Farm Bureau office.
Also, Frank noted sometimes people use SMV signs incorrectly by placing them as driveway markers or other inappropriate places.