This week’s guest commentary comes from Larry Davis, Board Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)
Slow-moving farm equipment on roadways can present significant challenges for both motorists and farmers, particularly at this time of year. As Ontario farmers rush to bring in the harvest in good weather conditions, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) encourages farmers to review road safety practices.
While farm equipment is permitted on roadways at all times of year, it is a more common sight during the busy harvest season. Motorists who are unaccustomed to encountering farm equipment on the road are often unprepared to safely follow slow-moving tractors towing large, specialized pieces of equipment such as combines and grain wagons.
The OFA reminds farmers there are specific rules farm equipment operators are required to follow to keep our roads safe. For example, drivers must be at least 16 years of age and all farm equipment drivers should practice a “no riders policy.” Farm vehicles must yield half the roadway to oncoming traffic, they must be properly lit, and operators must signal turns. Farm vehicles should be driven on the travelled portion of the road, because road shoulders may not support the weight of farm equipment. And remember tractors and farm equipment still follow the rules of the road, and that means no cell phones while driving.
It’s always good practice to keep your lights on when travelling roadways – especially around dawn and dusk. And every tractor, combine or towed implement must display a slow moving vehicle sign to warn motorists that the vehicle will not reach highway speeds. But with proper signage comes some hefty rules: equipment displaying a slow moving vehicle sign is limited to a maximum speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour. Equipment often requires operators to travel at lower speeds because wide turns and heavy loads make it difficult to stop quickly or turn easily on roadways.
Let’s put farm safety first this harvest season. The OFA encourages everyone – farmers and motorists – to consider road safety practices when farm equipment travels on roadways. On behalf of the OFA, we wish farmers a safe and profitable harvest season.