Shar­ing is fraught with hazards

The Glengarry News - - Classified­s -

By De­bra Pretty-Straathof, Di­rec­tor, On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture Safety must be a top pri­or­ity on and off the farm – es­pe­cially as farm­ers head out on the roads with equip­ment dur­ing har­vest. It’s get­ting tougher to travel on road­ways. Roads, bridges and traffic cir­cles aren’t built to ac­com­mo­date ma­chin­ery and a lot more mo­torists are in­creas­ingly im­pa­tient around slow mov­ing ve­hi­cles.

The On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture (OFA) re­cently sent a let­ter to the Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion, John Yak­abuski, out­lin­ing the key is­sues and con­cerns farm­ers face when trav­el­ling On­tario’s road­ways with farm equip­ment. The let­ter was part of OFA’s se­ries of pri­or­ity let­ters sent to var­i­ous min­istries that focus on short-term is­sues we are ask­ing the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to ad­dress.

Road safety can­not be com­pro­mised. OFA be­lieves a num­ber of on­go­ing is­sues can and must be ad­dressed. The first is the plan­ning and con­struc­tion of road­ways, bridges and traffic cir­cles. Farm­ers share the road with mo­torists, but many bridges aren’t be­ing built wide enough to ac­com­mo­date farm equip­ment. Road­way shoul­ders are be­ing re­duced or re­built with a slope that re­duces the area for farm equip­ment to use. The de­sign of traffic cir­cles, more com­monly known as round­abouts, don’t con­sider the width of farm equip­ment, and in some cases, trav­el­ling on these roads is not an option. OFA is ad­dress­ing these in­fra­struc­ture con­cerns with the gov­ern­ment and will con­tinue to con­sult on road con­struc­tion and re­build projects.

Ev­ery farm trac­tor or self-pro­pelled im­ple­ment trav­el­ling a road­way must dis­play a Slow Mov­ing Ve­hi­cle (SMV) sign. But most mo­torists don’t know what the sign means, or that the SMV sign iden­ti­fies farm equip­ment that has an equal right to travel the road­way, at a max­i­mum speed of 40 km/hr. OFA is ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to im­prove the aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing of SMV signs through driver ed­u­ca­tion courses

or gen­eral aware­ness cam­paigns.The Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion (MTO) is cur­rently re­vis­ing and up­dat­ing the Farm Guide, a valu­able re­source for farm­ers and en­force­ment per­son­nel in­clud­ing OPP of­fi­cers and MTO staff. The guide in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on the rules and reg­u­la­tions that gov­ern farm equip­ment and farm trucks. OFA is ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to col­lab­o­rate with farm or­ga­ni­za­tions on the next up­date of the guide to en­sure new types of ma­chin­ery like bale stack­ers and tele­han­dlers are in­cluded.There’s a lot of farm equip­ment trav­el­ling the road­ways this time of year. Safe roads and safe driving prac­tices are im­por­tant for ev­ery­one. OFA will con­tinue to push for safer, more ac­ces­si­ble road­ways for farm­ers in On­tario.

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