Let's face it one of the reasons we enjoy living in the Hudson Valley and Catskill region is its rural feel. It is nice to be able to travel down roads and see farms to the right and the left.

We have beef farms, wineries, fruit orchards, and other types of agricultural businesses that line our back road and in some cases even our busy roads. For that reason alone it is important that we know how to share the road with farm equipment.

What are the Rules for Passing a Tractor in New York State


Spring, Summer, and Fall are popular times for our area farms and orchards to be working in their field. Many times this results in farms having to travel on the roads with their farm equipment. It always puzzles me that we live here to enjoy our open space but the minute a tractor gets in front of us on Route 208 or some other Hudson Valley roadway we are suddenly bothered by our farm neighbors.

Recently I saw a post on Facebook from a local farmer who want to remind everyone that we have to share the road with farmers and their tractors. They had witnessed someone passing unsafely on a busy Ulster County highway and wanted people to know that driving like that can be dangerous for many reasons.

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The comments got me thinking about what are the real laws about passing slow-moving equipment being driven on the road in New York State. I was able to find a press release dated June 24, 2019, from the DMV that actually was alerting New Yorkers about new laws that would impact slow-moving vehicles.

Apparently, some new laws took effect on June 26, 2019, that made certain facts about slow equipment on the road more clear. The press release explained the machinery designed to run at low speeds, like 25 MPH but that can't exceed 40 MPH will have to display a sign, an SIS which stands for Speed Identification Symbol.

The article also pointed out that it is illegal to pass a slow-moving vehicle unless you are in a passing zone.

 It’s critical that drivers be on the lookout for slow-moving vehicles, especially as farm activity increases this time of year. Tractors and farm equipment cannot easily maneuver out of the way of traffic or speed up like other vehicles. So, we urge everyone to be aware and look out for the safety of our farmers. (press release comments from State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball 6-24-2019)


Tractor trailer loaded with natural fertilizer on a trailer.

Seven things you should do when you encounter a slow-moving vehicle according to the DMV in a press release date 6-24-2019.

  • Slow down immediately
  • Increase following distance to create a safety cushion
  • Be alert and watch for unexpected turns
  • Pass with care only when it is safe and legal to do so
  • Be aware that animal-powered vehicles may make unanticipated movements
  • Be aware that equipment in tow may sway on the road
  • Remember slow-moving vehicle operators may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow
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