NCERA 197: Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads

Use the following format to cite this article:

NCERA 197: Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads. (2012) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from….


In areas where rural and urban settings come together, motorists are more likely to encounter agricultural equipment and vehicles on public roads. In 2007, the North Central Education/Extension Research Activity (NCERA) 197 committee identified the operation of agricultural equipment on public roads as an agricultural safety and health priority area in need of further research and awareness. 

The committee reviewed research and engineering standards and identified extension and outreach and policy priorities related to the operation of agricultural equipment on public roads. The lists below outline the committee’s major recommendations in these areas.

Research and Development

  • To improve understanding of the characteristics of crashes between motor vehicles and agricultural machines or equipment, reporting and investigative agencies should develop and use standardized reporting terminology.
  • Researchers should prioritize the determination of best practices for lighting and marking agricultural equipment and vehicles (such as the use of slow moving vehicle [SMV] emblems on animal-drawn buggies).
  • As use of high-speed tractors, self-propelled machines, and towed equipment increases, engineers must improve and adapt braking and steering systems, tires, and rollover protective structures (ROPS) for high-speed machinery and equipment.
  • Researchers, officials, and agricultural safety and health leaders and experts should examine driver education curricula, which are not standardized nationally, to evaluate the level of instruction students receive about sharing roadways with agricultural equipment.
  • Researchers should examine the effectiveness of graduated licensing for youth operating agricultural equipment on public roadways.

Engineering Standards

  • Organizations and entities that formulate engineering design standards should base standards more directly on research findings. Engineers should collaborate with researchers and end users when developing and designing agricultural equipment.
  • When designing machinery and equipment, engineers should apply standards that require automatic and passive protection for drivers and riders operating agricultural equipment on public roads.
  • Designers and manufacturers should continually consider ways in which new technologies can be incorporated in the design standards and applications of agricultural equipment.

Safety Programs

  • Safety programs must balance the educational effort by educating both agricultural workers and the general public about:
    • best practices for operating farm equipment on roadways, 
    • the purpose and usage of SMV and speed indicator symbol (SIS) emblems, and
    • the ways exclusions and exemptions of agricultural equipment from traffic regulations impact the interaction of vehicles and agricultural equipment on roadways.
  • Safety programs should work with local and state law-enforcement agencies to increase officers’ awareness of laws related to farm equipment.
  • Safety program personnel should work with manufacturers of Amish buggies to encourage the use of marking and lighting systems that meet current standards developed by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the Department of Transportation (DOT).


  • State policies should promote the comprehensive explanation of SMV and SIS emblems in driver’s manuals and as part of driver education programs.
  • A more comprehensive Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) should be developed and adopted both nationally and at state levels. The new code should address modern types of agricultural equipment and the use of such equipment on roadways. Details of the code should include:
    • required registration of farm equipment for roadway use,
    • necessary qualifications and training for operators of agricultural equipment, and
    • regulations regarding the use of animal-drawn buggies, wagons, and equipment.
  • Policies should ensure consistent funding for research into the hazards of operating agricultural equipment on roadways and the best safety practices for the operation of farm equipment on public roads.
  • State and local governments should establish land-use policies to manage the interactions between farming and nonfarming vehicles on public roads.
  • Policies should encourage stricter enforcement by local and state police of proper SMV emblem usage.


Click here to review the NCERA 197 publication Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads, which explains the committee’s findings in their entirety.

For more information about the topics discussed in this article, click the links to the following articles:


Use the following format to cite this article:

NCERA 197: Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads. (2012) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from….


Reviewed and Summarized by:
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University –
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University –
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center –