CFAES Give Today

Ohio State University Extension


Tractors and Highway Safety

Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training for Operators and Supervisors
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: To use safe highway procedures for tractors.

Trainer’s Note

Incidents occur because highway safety precautions are not followed. It is difficult to avoid highway travel when going between farm sites. Discuss procedures for traveling on highways with agricultural equipment. Common sense and good judgment should be emphasized. Discuss driving safely on highways. Review the true or false quiz.


When hauling a tractor for a long distance, it is best to transport it on a truck or trailer.

Safe highway procedures for hauling include:

  • Haul tractors and implements on a flatbed.
  • Obey the laws for height and width regulation.
  • Remove, cover, or turn slow moving vehicle (SMV) signs when tractors are transported on another vehicle.
  • Use the correct flags, lights, and reflectors on the transport vehicle to warn other drivers.

For shorter distances, tractor highway travel is appropriate. For the safety of everyone on the road, some safety provisions should be followed. Only operate machinery in good repair on the highway. Properly hitch implements with adequate safety chains before beginning the journey. Do not use makeshift hitch pins.

Before traveling on public roads remember:

  • Lock brake pedals.
  • Adjust mirrors for good vision.
  • Make sure that all warning flashers, lights, SMV emblems, and Speed Identification Symbol (if applicable) are in proper operating condition, clean, and easily visible.
  • Check tire inflation pressures. Inflate the tires to the maximum recommended pressure for long distance travel.
  • Check the wheels to see if the bolts are tight.
  • Make sure the tractor is balanced properly.

When pulling onto a public road, use a wide shoulder if available. If the shoulder is not wide enough, stay on the road. Allow extra time to reach full speed. Tractors do not accelerate rapidly, especially when towing equipment.

When traveling on public roads:

  • Watch for potholes or obstacles that could tip the tractor.
  • Listen for cars. Often vehicles will rapidly approach from the rear at three to four times the speed of the tractor.
  • Stay alert at all times to avoid a serious incident.
  • Keep a constant lookout for pedestrians, animals, and road obstacles.
  • Slow down for sharp curves.
  • Slow down when going down a hill.

Vehicles traveling on public roads at 25 mph or less are legally required to have a SMV sign. Equipment traveling faster than 25 mph is defined as a trailer and is not permitted to display the SMV emblem, but must be equipped with turn signals, brakes, and lights. Lighting regulations for slow moving vehicles vary. Before installing any warning light system on a tractor, check the regulations. Generally, the lighting and marking laws for tractors or self-propelled machines are consistent with the recommendations by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Only one vehicle classified as farm machinery may be towed by the licensed motor vehicle.

ASABE Recommendations Include:
  • Two headlights.
  • Two red tail lamps mounted on the rear of the machine.
  • At least two amber warning lights, visible from front and rear, mounted at the same level—at least 42 inches above ground level.
  • At least two red reflectors, visible from the rear, and mounted on either side.

The scope of the Speed Identification Symbol (SIS) standard is primarily to identify farm machinery traveling at ground speeds greater than 25 mph. The SIS also identifies the farm machineries’ maximum speeds. The SIS needs to be visible 300 feet to 100 feet to the rear, used in conjunction with the SMV emblem, and comply with ASABE standards. These emblems are reserved for machinery meeting the definition of “High Speed tractors” as declared by the manufacturer.

Lights and emblems must be clearly visible. If lights or emblems are blocked during towing, attach lights and emblems to the rear of the implements. Most tractors can be equipped with auxiliary connectors allowing implement electrical systems to be plugged into the circuit operating the tractor lights.

Review the Following Points

  • Know the law concerning highway travel for tractors.
  • Watch for highway traffic.
  • Use common sense and obey traffic patterns when traveling on the highway with a tractor.

About These Modules

The Ag Tailgate Training Series was developed by members of the Agricultural Safety and Health Program in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Revised by Dee Jepsen, State Agricultural Safety Leader, with editing assistance by Lisa Pfeifer and Cody McClain.

True or False Answer Key

  1. T
  2. T
  3. F
  4. T
  5. T

Quiz: Tractors and Highway Safety



True or False?    

1. When tractors or implements must be transported long distances, it is safest to haul them on a flatbed. T F
2. Stay alert at all times to avoid a serious incident.     T F
3. A SMV emblem is not required when using a SIS.   T F
4. Slow the tractor speed down when going through a sharp curve or down a hill. T F
5. Make sure that all lights and warning signals are in working order before traveling on the road. T F






Originally posted Nov 6, 2019.