CFFO: Road Safety In Harvest Time

Safety on Ontario roads continues to be a concern for the police forces across the province. Prevention of fatalities due to automobile accidents takes a lot of effort for these forces. Drivers need to follow the rules of the road not only for themselves but also for the other drivers and passengers that are alongside them on Ontario roads.

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The RIDE Program is an example of what police forces use to curb driving under the influence of alcohol. New data on Ontario road safety suggests that the number of deaths due to cellphone use while controlling a motorized vehicle is similar to that of impaired driving (Preliminary 2016 Ontario Road Safety Annual Report Selected Statistics). This past year, collisions involving large trucks seem to be occurring on a regular basis and often involve multiple vehicles, reinforcing the importance of complete attention when operating a large vehicle.

The agricultural industry is using roads more and more as farms operate more acres that are a significant distance from the home farm. Most of this equipment is also larger than the average motorized vehicle and requires more space on the road. Safety on the road with today’s large farm equipment continues to be a concern for the industry as over the past months there have been a number of fatalities involving farm equipment on rural roads and even within rural towns. The ag industry needs to take action on thi s and set some basic and obvious regulations for travelling on the road with equipment. Escort vehicles may be one solution to consider. We all know that lights in front, rear, and along the side are absolutes, as are rear view mirrors. Long trains should have a sign at the rear indicating that it is a train, similar to double transport trailers on the 400 series highways.

We are heading into the last weeks of the 2017 harvest, which may be later than desired, and the temptation will be to hurry along as fast as we can. This is when safety actions are left out for the sake of saving a few minutes to hurry to the field or back. But sometimes, it’s these few minutes that end in days or years of regret when an accident occurs. Even though the time may be late or you feel rushed, please take the time to do things properly when travelling on the road with large farm equipment.

Thankfully, more and more farm equipment is designed for travel on today’s roads because many modern farms consist of hundreds of acres and require road travel. This equipment is designed with many safety features, and so it’s the operator’s responsibility to use them. Consideration for other travellers on the roads needs to come first—not the attitude that it’s too time consuming.
Paul Bootsma is Field Services Manager 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, CKXFM Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston. It is also archived on the CFFO website, CFFO is supported by 4,000 family farmers across Ontario.