COLUMBIA, Mo. – A simple, inexpensive sign and a few extra minutes save lives during harvest time.

The slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem, a reflective orange triangle bordered with red, is the cheapest safety device in the farm store. But it’s also one of the best ways to remind drivers to share the road with farmers during the upcoming harvest season, says Todd Lorenz, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist.

National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 21-27, is a good time to talk about driving safety on Missouri’s rural roads, Lorenz said.

Farms and farm equipment have grown much larger since rural roads were engineered decades ago. Unmarked intersections and rail crossings on narrow, winding blacktops and gravel roads create dangerous situations for farmers moving equipment from field to field.

Lorenz offers these safety tips for motorists:

• Slow down and be patient.

• Be alert and be alive. Put cellphones away.

• Don’t pass farm equipment without clear visibility and ample time.

• Beware of tractors making turns. This requires extra room.

• Be aware that tractor cabs and grain trucks may have blind spots and the driver’s hearing may be impaired by the cab and sound of equipment.

• Be on the lookout for family members who might be driving supplies or food to the fields on an ATV.

MU Extension safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch offers guidelines for farmers:

• Use SMV signs on all farm equipment.

• Plan travel to avoid high traffic times.

• Travel after daybreak and before dark.

•  Use hand turn signs.

• Install wide mirrors to see traffic and be aware of blind spots.

• If possible, have someone follow or precede you to alert drivers.

• Be aware of drowsiness. Stop for a lunch break.

• If traffic is piling up behind you, pull over to road shoulders, if available.

• Turn your radio down when approaching intersections and rail crossings. Look and listen.

• Be sure that all appropriate signal lights are installed and working, including headlights.

For more information, contact your local MU Extension center or Funkenbusch at 800-995-8503.

The Missouri state statute for SMV emblems can be found at

For more farm safety information, go to

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