CFFO: The CFFO calls for improved Road Safety for Farm Equipment
By Nathan Stevens – June 27, 2014
New technology and a number of strong years with high commodity prices has resulted in considerable investments in new equipment and it is changing the face of agriculture. The CFFO is concerned that the road safety rules in the farm guide are falling out of sync with the reality of the farm equipment that is on the road today. Tractors and equipment are larger, they are moving faster, and are travelling greater distances.
The danger that the CFFO has identified is that the potential for a tragic accident is on the rise, and the industry needs to respond to this issue in a responsible, pro-active manner. Failing to do so may result in regulations being imposed that are a “knee-jerk” response that goes farther than necessary. The bottom line for CFFO members is that our farm equipment needs to be safe when it hits the road and that means improving communications and training of operators.
The first concern is tractor speed, with many tractors that are routinely active on today’s roads being capable of reaching 60 km/h, which is vastly different from the 40 km/h limit on vehicles using the slow-moving vehicle sign. We need to ensure that the rules of the road reflect the speed of business. The CFFO is recommending the development of a new sign that communicates the speed at which these newer vehicles can travel.
This larger, faster and heavier equipment takes skill to operate, and there is the danger of inadequate driver training. The CFFO is recommending that a brief, voluntary training program be developed in consultation with general farm organizations, insurance agencies and the appropriate government ministries, and be administered by a third party. In our view, completion of the training program would provide a certificate for the driver. Furthermore, an incentive for farmers through reduced insurance rates needs to exist. Finally, on-line and foreign language services (i.e. Spanish) should be considered.
The third key area of concern is that increased length of rigs on the road at higher speeds could create dangerous passing situations. The CFFO recommendation is that farm vehicle rigs that are either pulling more than two pieces of equipment, or the length of the rig exceeds 25 meters in length, use a sign similar to the “Long Commercial Vehicle” sign to communicate to other vehicles that a long pass is required.
The face of agriculture is changing. The equipment farmers are using is larger, faster and pulling more weight than ever. It is important that as a sector, we take steps to ensure that we are communicating clearly with other commuters on the road and taking steps to ensure that operators have the skills to handle the equipment used for the business of farming in 2014.
Nathan Stevens is the General Manager and Director of Policy Development for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston. It is also archived on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,000 family farmers across Ontario.