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Ohio State University Extension


Safety Means SMV (Slow-Moving Vehicle) for Trainers and Supervisors

Tailgate Safety Training for Landscaping and Horticultural Services
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: Use Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs properly.

Trainer’s Note

Slow-moving vehicles on the road display an SMV sign as a warning. For this module:

  • Review the information below on SMV signs:
    • When they are required.
    • What requirements they must meet.
    • How they should be mounted and maintained.
  • Show workers properly mounted SMV signs in good repair.
  • If possible, show unacceptable SMV signs for comparison.
  • Review the important points.
  • Have workers take the True/False quiz to check their learning.


SMV signs are required by law on self-propelled or towed equipment when traveling on roads at speeds of 25 MPH or less. The sign must be visible for at least 500 feet to the rear. Approved SMV signs have a front label identifying the manufacturer and the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) standard.

Properly mounted, the sign is centered two to six feet above the ground. It should point up, perpendicular to the direction of travel. It should be clearly visible day and night to approaching or trailing vehicles.

Traffic studies show that two out of three road incidents involving slow-moving vehicles are rear-end collisions. Ninety percent of these incidents happen during the daylight. The use of the SMV sign reduces injuries and saves lives. Signs in poor condition provide little or no protection in traffic. Keep the sign clean for maximum visibility. Replace damaged or faded signs immediately. A faded sign will not be visible for the required 500 feet. When this occurs, the operator’s life is in danger. The law is also violated. To extend the life of the SMV sign, always cover or keep it out of the sun when not in use.

The bright, fluorescent orange triangle of the SMV sign is visible for more than 1,000 feet. This distance provides motorists time to slow down. At night, approaching headlights illuminate the reflective red border of the SMV sign. This border identifies a slow-moving vehicle.

Review These Important Points

  • Keep the sign clean to enhance visibility.
  • Replace faded or damaged signs.
  • Mount the sign point up, centered two to six feet above the ground.
  • A slow-moving vehicle travels at 25 MPH or less.

About These Modules
The author team for the training modules in the landscape and horticultural tailgate training series includes Dee Jepsen, Program Director, Agricultural Safety and Health, Ohio State University Extension; Michael Wonacott, Research Specialist, Vocational Education; Peter Ling, Greenhouse Specialist; and Thomas Bean, Agricultural Safety Specialist. Modules were developed with funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant Number 46E3-HT09.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Labor.

Answer Key

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

Quiz: Safety Means SMV (Slow-Moving Vehicle)



True or False?

1. SMV signs must be used on machinery and equipment operating on streets and highways only at 15 MPH or less.     T     F

2. The sign must be firmly mounted, point down.     T     F

3. A faded sign has limited daytime visibility.     T     F

4. An SMV sign must be visible for 1,500 feet.     T     F

5. When used as designed, the SMV sign can reduce incidents and save lives.     T     F

Originally posted Jun 8, 2018.