Make it safe
“Maintenance is a contributing factor to the safety of transporting farm equipment,” says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
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. 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.”
She adds that the number one 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 (ROPS). In addition, operators should always wear a seat belt as ROPS are ineffective in a roll over 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 follows all regulated requirements for lighting and signage.
“That way, approaching traffic has time to react to a slow moving vehicle,” she says.
Use reflective tape and reflectors on large equipment that may need to be moved when light is dim. In Canada, reflective material should be red and orange strips. Purchase tape in kits or by the foot at local farm or hardware stores.
Lubeck adds that dust covered signage and lights make farm machinery less visible to motorists, and dust covered machinery causes poor visibility for the operator who may not see oncoming traffic. Be sure to clean farm equipment prior to transportation to minimize the risk of collision due to poor visibility.
“It is important to note that regulated requirements for lighting and signage on roads include the use of a slow moving vehicle (SMV) sign. The SMV sign must be properly mounted, clean and not faded. It must be positioned on the rear of the tractor or towed implement and clearly visible. SMV signs must be used on equipment travelling less than 40 km per hour.”
Plan the route
“Farmers should check their route prior to starting out with farm equipment,” she explains. “They can see whether their equipment will fit on all roads and bridges and that there are no low-hanging power lines along the route.”
“If equipment is too wide to fit safely into one lane, approaching traffic could clip the machinery or it could get caught up while crossing a bridge. Equipment that is too tall could come in contact with a power line. Use a pilot vehicle as a guide for large machinery and to warn motorists of oncoming large equipment.”
For the safety of all motorists, Lubeck highly recommends that farmers move equipment during high visibility daylight hours and during periods of light traffic.
“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.”
Anyone moving equipment, especially on roads, should be trained how to use it, and they must be at least 14 years of age.
“Inexperienced operators can make mistakes when they are not familiar with the speed and maneuverability limitations of farm equipment. We advise to read the operator’s manual for each machine and observe any precautions indicated for road travel. Some tractors freewheel in higher gears, which can be very dangerous when travelling down a hill. Use lower gear ranges when climbing or descending hills.”
“Never take extra riders on equipment. Extra riders on farm equipment are a distraction to the operator and are at risk of falling off the machinery and being run over. Each person in the machine should be secured with a seatbelt.”
Safe driving tips
Farm machinery operators can make road travel safer for themselves and others by observing safety precautions. Travel at a speed that will allow the operator to maintain full control at all times. Slow down when making turns or rounding curves. If needed, pull over when there is a suitable area to allow backed-up traffic to pass. Make sure the area is sufficiently wide and solid enough to handle the equipment.
“Once on a road, obey all traffic laws and signs,” she adds. “Always wear your seatbelt and use signal lights when turning. Never use a mobile phone while transporting equipment. The distracted driving law, along with all other rules of the road, are in full effect while driving farm machinery on roads and highways.”
Find more information in Safe Transport of Farm Equipment in Alberta.
To connect with the Alberta Farm Safety Program: