Gov Okays Seward Farm Safety Measure

James L. Seward

July 22, 2008

The governor has signed legislation filed by Sen. James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) that would require all farm machinery to display the standard, reflective slow moving vehicle emblem to improve visibility when operating on public highways.

Senate bill 2180-D was passed by the senate and assembly in response to a tragic and fatal accident in Seward’s district involving a passenger vehicle and a tractor towing a manure spreader. Because the manure spreader was not required to display any lights or the slow-moving vehicle emblem, the driver was unable to see the machine in front of him until it was too late. Schuyler Lake resident Manfred Weidemann perished in the accident, which occurred on Route 28 south of Milford. Seward praised Weidemann’s daughter Carina Franck and their family for working to improve state law as a result of the tragedy.

"I am glad the governor signed this common sense, safety measure for motorists and farmers, who share our roads at various times," Seward said. "I commend Carina Franck for turning a tragedy into a successful effort to change state law and make our highways safer. We want to ensure the rights of farmers to use our roads and to heighten the awareness of motorists of the presence of farm machinery on our highways."

The bill requires all farm machinery, whether self-propelled or a towed implement, to display the slow-moving vehicle emblem (reflective orange triangle) to improve visibility when operating on public highways. Currently, the slow-moving vehicle emblem is required to be displayed on either the machine or the towed implement of husbandry, not both. The measure also clarifies that lights on tractors must be operating from one-half-hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise and when visibility for a distance of 1000 feet is not clear. Last, the bill requires the governor’s traffic safety committee (GTSC) to enact a public outreach campaign to inform the general public about highway safety pertaining to agricultural equipment.

The legislation was sponsored in the assembly by Assemblyman Magee.