The SMV emblem celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The unmistakable, bright orange-and-red triangle alerts motorists sharing the roads with slow-moving farm equipment and horse-drawn vehicles.
In the late 1950s, a 10-year retrospective study of fatal tractor accidents was conducted by Walter McClure and Ben Lamp, both with the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Ohio State University, to understand the nature and causes of highway tractor collisions, according to a news release.
The research indicated a significant number of fatalities related to highway travel of slow-moving vehicles.
A research proposal written by Ken Harkness with Ohio State and funded through the Automotive Safety Foundation (1961-62) further focused understanding of SMV accidents and resulted in the development of a unique SMV emblem.
Early data estimated 65 percent of the motor vehicle accidents involving SMVs were rear-end collisions.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol, county sheriffs and municipal police cooperated in the research by gathering detailed data on 708 SMV accidents.
In 1962, under the supervision of Harkness, the design and testing of the SMV emblem was completed.
A one-sixteenth-scale highway simulator was constructed to test human recognition rates of different shapes and colors mounted on simulated SMVs.
After testing various designs, a triangular-shaped emblem with a 12-inch-high fluorescent orange center and three 13⁄4-inch wide reflective borders was determined to be the most-effective design for day and night visual identification.
The Goodyear Rubber and Tire Co. sponsored initial public exposure to the SMV emblem in 1962.
An emblem mounted on the back of a farm wagon and towed by a Ford tractor made a 3,689 mile trip from Portland, Maine to San Diego, Calif.
The first formal introduction of the SMV emblem was at a University of Iowa Invitational Safety Seminar in 1962.
Carlton Zink of Deere & Co. then became an avid promoter of the SMV emblem and played a major role in the adoption of the emblem by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE).
In 1963, Novice G. Fawcett, President of Ohio State University, dedicated the SMV emblem to the public. Also in 1963, the Agricultural Engineering Journal printed its first article with color illustrations about the SMV emblem.
The National Safety Council promoted the adoption of the emblem and awarded a Certificate of Commendation to Harkness.
In less than two years from the emblem’s first date of availability, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, and Vermont adopted legislation requiring the emblem to be used on SMVs.
Safety Leader Bill Stuckey, an Ohio Farm and Home Safety Committee member, spearheaded the adoption of the SMV emblem in Ohio.
In 1967, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) adopted the SMV emblem as a CSA Standard. In 1971, the SMV emblem became the first ASAE Standard to be adopted as a national standard by the American National Standards Institute.
In recognition for the research and development of the SMV emblem, Harkness was inducted as a charter member of the Ohio Safety Hall of Fame in 1992.
Also in 1992, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers designated the development of the SMV emblem as an ASAE Historic Landmark.
The emblem has been adopted for use in other countries, and is undergoing review to receive designation as an International Safety Standard.
The SMV is one of the mostrecognized emblems used by farmers and ranchers around the world.