OFA Commentary: Road safety during harvest season is a shared responsibility

By Larry Davis
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

As a grassroots organization, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) represents issues and advocates for actions that matter to our 38,000 farm members.

So when we heard from members about road safety concerns when farm equipment travels the roadways during busy spring and fall seasons, we developed a road safety campaign to remind all drivers about how to safely share the road.

For everyday drivers who may not know what a slow moving vehicle sign means, we are using social media to build awareness about how to safely interact with farm equipment on the road.

Key messages for these drivers are to slow down, share the road and wait until it’s safe to pass.

We’re also directing drivers to view a short road safety video, “Road Safety and Farm Vehicles” at youtube.com/ontariofarms.

For farmers working long hours to bring the harvest in, it’s a good time to review some road safety best practices.

There is more farm equipment on the road and the hours of daylight are declining – situations that can lead to some risky road conditions.

On the road, drive your equipment on the main part of the highway.

It’s not illegal to drive on the shoulder, but it may not support the weight of your equipment.

Stay off your smartphone, the rules for distracted driving also apply when you are driving equipment.

Keep your maximum speed to 40 km/h and take the time to check twice when turning on and off busy roadways for drivers who may be anxious to race past.

As for your equipment, be sure there is a visible slow moving vehicle sign on anything that travels on roadways, including tractors, combines, self-propelled vehicles and sprayers, and anything being towed.

Keep lights on for safety. Lights must be on farm equipment from 30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise, but best practices are to just keep them on all the time.

Farm equipment on public roads must have two white headlights and one red taillight. And towed implements must have at least one red taillight.

We know everyone is rushing to get the harvest done and maybe some other fall field activities.

Every time you drive farm equipment on a public roadway, there’s an opportunity to practice road safety. It takes a little patience. It means slowing down a little. And it means sharing the road.

For more road safety tips, visit ofa.on.ca/roadsafety.

Larry Davis