According to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program, 13 per cent of farm-related fatalities across Canada are traffic related, and most involved tractors.
During the busy fall harvest season, farmers often travel long distances between fields, and this requires transporting equipment on public roads throughout rural Alberta. Farm equipment is oversized and slow compared to other vehicles using the roads, and when certain procedures are not met, this can lead to collisions and other incidents.
Make it safe
Maintenance is a contributing factor to the safety of transporting farm equipment. Poor maintenance of equipment such as brakes or tires can lead to loss of control of the vehicle. Check all tires for air pressure, cuts, bumps, and tread wear. Always lock brake pedals together for highway travel as sudden braking at high speeds on only one wheel could put the tractor into a dangerous skid. Equip heavy wagons with their own independent brakes.
The No. 1 cause of farm-related fatalities in Canada is machinery rollovers. To minimize the risk of severe injury or death to the operator, all tractors need rollover protective structures. In addition, operators should always wear a seatbelt as rollover structures are ineffective without this restraining device.
Make it visible
To avoid traffic collisions between motorists and farm equipment, farmers should ensure their equipment is clearly visible and follow all regulated requirements for lighting and signage. Use reflective tape and reflectors in the event that large equipment is required to travel in dim lighting conditions. In Canada, reflective material should be red and orange strips. You can purchase reflective tape in kits or by the foot at local farm or hardware stores.
Dust-covered signage and lights make farm machinery less visible to motorists and dust-covered machinery causes poor visibility for the operator. A slow-moving vehicle sign is required for equipment travelling less than 40 km/h, and must be properly mounted, clean, not faded and clearly visible.
Plan the route
Check the route to be sure equipment will fit on all roads and bridges and that there are no low-hanging power lines. Use a pilot vehicle as a guide for large machinery and to warn motorists of oncoming large equipment.
It is highly recommended that farmers move equipment during daylight hours and periods of light traffic. Avoid busy roads whenever possible, even if travel time will be longer. Be aware some rural railway crossings have poor visibility.
Some tractors can free-wheel in higher gears, which can be very dangerous when travelling down a hill.