Whether you’re a farmer on the road, or a motorist, we all have the same goal – returning home safely at the end of the day. This isn’t one person’s responsibility, or one groups, this is a team effort.
Safety is a two-way street.
As farmers, we aren’t exactly shocked to hear that we are often the cause of commuter frustration when we need to take our farm equipment onto Nova Scotia’s roads and highways. What is shocking however, is the number of motorists who would rather risk their own lives, and potentially ours, rather than just slowing down – often passing when its unsafe, the lane is unclear and the distance is underestimated.
According to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s (CASA) Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR), from 2003-2012 there were 843 agriculture related fatalities in Canada. Of these, 59 (7%) were traffic collisions. In fact, motor vehicle collision fatality rates have been increasing an average of 2.8% each year.
This is a key issue that Farm Safety Nova Scotia is prioritizing in their road safety campaign entitled, “One Road”. One Road is an educational campaign, aiming to keep farmers, workers and commuters safe when farm vehicles are on roadways with motorists travelling at high speeds, while also ensuring that farmers/workers are following safe practices when using our provincial roads and highways.
As farmers, we are out on the roads doing our job – producing safe and quality food for everyone’s table. This campaign works to remind motorists that everyone has a right to be on the road – whether you’re going to the field, or to the beach – and to respect those traveling on the road, to ensure we all arrive at our destination safely.
Producers have been traveling on the roads with tractors for years, the increase in traffic on our public roads is undeniable, however – the heavy traffic also increases our risks when traveling these roads with farm equipment.
Before heading back onto the roads for another busy cropping season, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Make sure your tractor is equipped with proper safety guards and devices. Check equipment (e.g. hydraulics, tires, and lights) before leaving.
- Tractors manufactured after 1974 must be equipped with a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) and a seatbelt, which must be worn at all times.
- Lock tractor brakes together when traveling on the road.
- Always travel on the road, never the shoulder. When safe, pull off the road completely to allow vehicles to pass.
- When towing implements, be sure to use proper hitching techniques with safety chains. All implements should be locked in the “travel” position when on public roads.
- All loads must be secured.
- Ensure your registered farm vehicles have both government issued plates mounted, one on the front and one on the back.
In Nova Scotia, our government is currently working on the new Traffic Safety Act (TSA), which provides the framework for safe travel on Nova Scotia roads – not only for the motoring public but also for those traveling as part of their business. In 2018, NSFA submitted a Stakeholder Response with a number of recommendations for consideration in the TSA that address our innovative industry, including:
- Adding self-propelled implement of husbandry and expanded definition of farm tractor.
- An amendment be made to the terminology to provide clear interpretation of Slow-Moving Vehicle regulations.
- A regulation that encompasses all agricultural related traffic regulations and exemptions be developed.
NSFA continues to push for policy change with roles around FM plates, hauling farm equipment, licensing and definitions.
Remember to be visible, be aware, be courteous, and most importantly – be safe.
David Newcombe returned to the family farm after graduating from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Finance in May 2014. He is now home on the farm with his father Craig and uncle Brian where they have a dairy, broiler and layer operation with a feed mill on farm. David is proudly the 10th generation Newcombe to be farming at Cornwallis Farms Ltd. in Port Williams. David is the Vice-President of Farm Safety Nova Scotia and sits on Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture’s Transportation Committee.