Spring often means taking equipment on public roads, and that can be a hazardous business.
According to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program, 13 per cent of farm-related fatalities across Canada are traffic related, and most involve tractors.
“Maintenance is a contributing factor to the safety of transporting farm equipment,” said Kenda Lubeck, farm safety co-ordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
“Poor maintenance of equipment such as brakes or tires can lead to loss of control of the vehicle.”
In addition to checking 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, said Lubeck.
Heavy wagons should have their own independent brakes, and equipment should be clearly visible and have proper lighting and signage (including a properly mounted ‘slow-moving vehicle’ sign if the equipment is travelling at less than 40 kilometres per hour).
Red-and-orange reflective tape and reflectors are also a good idea. Tape is sold in kits or by the foot at farm or hardware stores. Farm equipment should also be cleaned to increase visibility.
Farmers should check their route beforehand to ensure their equipment will fit on all roads and bridges, and that there are no low-hanging power lines along the route, said Lubeck.
Try to travel during the day and use common sense.
“Avoid busy roads whenever possible, even if travel time will be longer. If your route takes you across a rural railway crossing, be aware that some crossings have poor visibility. Always stop and make sure the way is clear before crossing.”