Fast tractors hitting the roads

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SALEM, Ohio – Some Ohio farmers will take to the roads Oct. 19 in “fast tractors” with a new law to protect them and a new symbol to identify them.
Fast tractors, designed by the manufacturer to go as fast as 40 mph, were previously limited by state law to travel on roads at only about half the speed they’re built for.

Those tractors will pick up speed tomorrow, thanks to a new law that originated in Wayne County, passed the Ohio legislature unanimously and got the governor’s signature this summer.
Ohio is the first state in the nation to have fast tractor speed protections.

Law changed

Current law says all farm equipment traveling on roadways must display the fluorescent orange and red triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem.
But legally, any moving machinery with an SMV can’t go faster than 25 mph, even if it’s designed to go faster.
That all changes tomorrow, when newer model tractors made to go fast will add a new Speed Identification Sign beside the SMV.
The new SIS, a black circle on white with the tractor’s speed rating printed inside, is designed to let approaching motorists see how quickly the equipment ahead of them is traveling, and to protect farmers from speeding tickets.
The legislation was proposed after a Wayne County farmer was ticketed for operating his fast tractor on the roadway.

Restrictions

The law applies only to tractors designated safe to operate at high speeds by the manufacturer, driven by licensed drivers, and that display the proper markings.
Unlicensed drivers cannot drive a tractor over 25 mph on roadways, even if it’s designated a “fast tractor” by the manufacturer.
The circular emblem also would be required on any equipment towed behind a tractor, and a farmer could drive only as fast as the lower speed allowed.

Emblem

The emblems are available from farm equipment manufacturers and must be displayed by Oct. 19 to avoid fines and tickets.
The Ohio Farm Bureau has also made the signs available at all county offices. Decals and metal signs with brackets are available for equipment rated at 35, 40 and 45 mph.

Related coverage:

Farmers gear up for speed protection (7/5/2007)

Tractors may get state OK to go fast (5/24/2007)

‘Fast tractors’ speed toward safety issues (5/18/2006)

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Former staff reporter Andrea Zippay wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2001 to 2009.

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