Is it illegal to pass slow-moving farm equipment in New York?

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We’ve all been there before. We’re in a rush. We didn’t leave the house in time. You finally take the road, to find yourself behind agricultural equipment.

Can you just skip them?

The answer is that it depends on where you are on the road. Like any other vehicle, you may only pass a slow moving vehicle in a passing zone AND if it is safe to do so. If you cannot see around this vehicle to tell if there is oncoming traffic, you should not attempt to pass it. A slow moving vehicle is defined as a vehicle that travels less than 40 miles per hour. You will be able to recognize them because they should have what they call a “speed identification symbol” (SIS) and the “slow moving vehicle triangle” displayed on the rear of the vehicle.

If you are in a prohibited area (double yellow lines), you must wait.

Yes… even if you are in a hurry, you have to wait. The Highway Code still applies. It’s incredibly dangerous for you and the farmer if you decide to try buzzing around them.

“It is essential that drivers be on the lookout for slow-moving vehicles, especially as agricultural activity increases at this time of year. Tractors and farm equipment cannot easily maneuver away from traffic or accelerate like other vehicles. We therefore urge everyone to be aware and ensure the safety of our farmers. -Richard A. Ball, State Commissioner for Agriculture

According to the DMV, if you are approaching a slow-moving vehicle, you should:

  • Slow down immediately
  • Increase following distance to create a safety cushion
  • Be alert and watch for unexpected turns
  • Proceed with caution only when it is safe and legal to do so
  • Be aware that animal-drawn vehicles can make unexpected movements
  • Be aware that towed equipment can sway on the road
  • Remember that drivers of slow moving vehicles may have poor visibility due to towed loads and equipment

Chances are that this vehicle won’t travel far. Give yourself plenty of time when you leave your house and give them the space they need to do their jobs and everyone will get to where they need to be safely.

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