RCMP and Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) are warning motor vehicle drivers once again to slow down as the growing season nears its end and farmers move large equipment on public roadways.
“This year we have already had one death on our roads because of a collision with farm equipment,” said RCMP Insp. Ed Moreland, officer in charge of Traffic Services.
That incident involved a 63-year-old farmer who was killed in May when the tractor he was driving at Roblin was rear-ended by a car.
“Motorists and farmers both need to be aware of the safety issues involved with slow-moving vehicles. Lives depend on it.”
The Highway Traffic Act requires that all farm equipment have a slow-moving-vehicle emblem warning motorists approaching from behind, along with red reflectors on the back near left and right sides. At night, farm equipment must have headlights, red tail lamps and flashing amber warning lamps.
KAP president Dan Mazier said he thinks farmers are more aware than ever of the need to be visible on roadways and farm equipment more than ever before is equipped with safety reflectors and lights.
“Farmers are pretty diligent about this,” he said. “They do understand they have a responsibility to be well marked.”
It’s when motorists fail to observe the slower-moving equipment ahead, ignoring the bright-orange triangle with a red border that signals a slow-moving vehicle, that they put both themselves and the farm equipment operator in serious danger. Then they cannot stop in time to avoid a collision. Cars travelling 90 km/h can cover a distance the length of a football field in five seconds, point out RCMP.
Left-turn collisions happen when the motor vehicle operator thinks the farm equipment operator is pulling over to allow them to pass but instead is actually making a wide left turn. Motorists need to realize farm equipment drivers often must veer right before making a wide left-hand turn due to the size of the machinery, warn RCMP.
For safety’s sake, motor vehicle operators should be aware that farm machinery does not always use an obvious intersection, and may be entering a main roadway from a field or a farm lane.
RCMP also warn that farmers working long hours or late into the night should not take equipment on the roadway if they’re tired or the equipment is not equipped with flashing and driving lights.
Canada-wide road accidents account for 13 per cent of all farm-related deaths while roadways rank as the third most common site where farmers are killed, according to statistics on ag-related fatalities in the Canadian Agricultural Injury Report.
“The key to road safety is good judgment,” said Glen Blahey, health and safety specialist with CASA whose head offices are in Winnipeg.
“By simply slowing down, paying attention and by being respectful, both farm equipment operators and motorists can share the road safely.”