Sharing the road keeps farmers and drivers safe

Moving farm equipment down the road can be a scary situation.

To make it safe, everyone  — farmers and drivers — need to understand the rules of the road and follow them, says Matt Mitchell, an enforcement officer for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Speaking with farmers at the SouthWest Agricultural Conference (SWAC) last week at Ridgetown, Ont., Mitchell emphasized a number of points to keep farmers and drivers safe.

When it comes to moving equipment, Mitchell stressed the importance of using the road and staying off the shoulder. “We don’t expect you to use the shoulder because we don’t know if that shoulder is soft or if it can hold the weight of that vehicle,” he said.

Mitchell expects the general public to respect farmers when they are moving slowly and understanding that they require more time. He stressed the importance of having highly visible, slow moving vehicle (SMV) signs at the back of tractors or trailing implements. “We want it in a position where the general public can see it — not in the top corner or at the bottom — right in the middle.”

(Bernard Tobin and Matt Mitchell discuss the rules of the road. Story continues after the video.)

The general public should recognize a SMV sign and understand that the vehicle is doing less than 40 kilometres per hour, but “everybody is in a rush,” noted Michell. That’s no excuse, however, as he expects the general public to slow down, give farmers room, and pass only when it is safe to do so.

Mitchell also stressed the importance of tying down and securing loads, and avoiding blocking live lanes when loading or unloading crop. He noted that during 2019, some farmers opted to load trucks on hard roads to avoid soggy or soft fields. “We understand the predicament, but farmers cannot block live lanes” he said, noting that traffic backups must be avoided because they can potentially block emergency vehicles should they need to pass. In these situations, Mitchell recommends farmers contact their municipality for assistance.

Click here for more SWAC coverage.

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