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01 February 2015 - Does the Mailbox Move?

If you are a regular reader, listener or viewer of Samuelson Sez, then you know how upset I get when I see the Slow Moving Vehicle emblem nailed to a mailbox post, used as a driveway marker or nailed to any other stationary object. Because that is not the intended use of the Slow Moving Vehicle sign.

In many states, it is an illegal use because that emblem by law is designed to let motorists know they are approaching a slow moving vehicle on the country road or the highway. It says you should slow down to avoid a collision!

I usually write about this during planting or harvest season because that’s when we find a lot of slow moving equipment on the road. So why am I writing about it in the dead of winter?

Strangely enough, during the past week, I received e-mails from two people who shared stories and my concern over the lack of respect for the SMV emblem. The first came from a listener in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who does a great deal of driving in his area. He wrote “. . . on the west side of Cedar Rapids, almost out of town, I came across a John Deere mailbox with a Slow Moving Vehicle emblem on the post. I stopped, went to the door and when the owner answered the door, I was very courteous when I told I him it was an illegal use of the SMV, that he could get a ticket, and that he could use any number of other fluorescent signs or symbols to mark his mailbox. Well, he wasn’t at all interested and was very blunt when he said people kept running into his mailbox and he wanted to make sure people could see it.This is the third time I have done this at three different places, with the same response, and it’s very discouraging.” I commend him for his effort and his support and hope he will keep trying.

The second e-mail came from a member of the Washington state AgForestry Leadership Class who said he and four of his class members shared my concern and were starting a campaign in their state to make people much more aware of the meaning of the SMV emblem. They are working with their state Farm Bureau to enact legislation to make the misuse of SMV illegal, and local fire districts to get proper signs used as driveway markers instead of the SMV emblem. I hope more of you will follow these examples.

If and when I retire from this job, I think I will buy a case of black spray paint, travel the country and paint every SMV emblem nailed to a stationary object black. There are other florescent paints and materials available to mark your driveway, friends. Let’s use the Slow Moving Vehicle signs for their designated purpose, on slow moving vehicles.

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