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Fly your fanny flag high
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By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau
Kansas farmers have access to a safety tool that should always be used. The slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem can save lives and machinery.
A slow-moving vehicle emblem (fanny flag) is designed for one reason to notify the public that the vehicle motorists are approaching is not traveling more than 25 miles-per-hour, says Holly Higgins, Kansas Farm Bureau safety director. That in turn allows them to slow down and proceed with caution because the vehicle ahead is moving slowly.
“Once an approaching motorist sees the flashing lights and SMV sign, the driver can react in a defensive way that will keep both operators safe,” Higgins says. “We find that when you mix these two vehicles together without the proper warning devices in place a number of things can happen.”
One such example is a motorist who pops up over a hill traveling 65 miles-per-hour and finds a tractor moving at 20 miles-per-hour. The driver of the auto or truck may be forced to run into the ditch, the back of the tractor or into the other lane of oncoming traffic.
“Hazard lights and SMVs are there to prevent these types of accidents,” Higgins  says.
Anyone operating a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) be advised, the fluorescent orange emblem must be properly mounted on the back of your vehicle. Every farm tractor manufactured or assembled after Jan. 1, 1975, shall be equipped with hazard warning lights that are visible from a distance of not less than 1,000 feet to the front and rear in normal sunlight, which are to be displayed whenever such a vehicle is operated upon a highway.
One alarming trend that has occurred in Kansas is the misuse of these signs. The emblems have been found nailed to fence posts, in front of driveways, as markers for washed out areas in the road and in one instance on cattle pens in a feedlot.
Use of slow moving emblems in such a manner gives the motoring public a mistaken impression of what is on the road in front of them. They drive up slowly on a slow moving vehicle sign and assume a tractor or some other farm implement is going down the road in front of them. The next time they see the bright orange emblem, they may think it is something else and crash into the back of a slow moving vehicle.
SMV emblems help eliminate such accidents all together. For those producers, or anyone else operating slow moving vehicles ,you can purchase them at your local machinery dealer or farm-supply stores.
Use common sense when it comes to displaying your slow-moving vehicle emblems, Higgins advises. She used the example of a farmer using a stinger on the back of a tractor to haul big round bales.
“What happens if you lift such a bale up for transportation?” the safety spokesperson asks. “You can’t see the SMV emblem on the back of the tractor, right?”
So what’s the answer?
Take a slow-moving vehicle emblem that has a steel rod or wooden stake attached and stick it into the back of the hay bale. And before you head down the road, turn on the flashing amber lights.
If a farmer or rancher has the SMV emblem, his lights flashing and someone hits him from the rear, he’s done all he can, Higgins says.
“Proper installation and maintenance of SMVs isn’t intended to make anyone’s life more complicated,” Higgins says. “They’re intended to save lives and reduce accidents. If you don’t keep your slow-moving vehicle emblems clean and in place, you’re putting yourself in a position that can be avoided.”
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.