Corn Harvesting. photoCorn Harvesting. photo

Fall harvest underway, OFA asks for patience when sharing the roads

The Executive Director of Ontario's Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is encouraging motorists to "wave with all five fingers" when they see farmers on the roads this fall.

Crispin Colvin, who represents Lambton and Middlesex counties, said the harvest is underway and it will be busy for the next couple of months.

"Farm equipment moves very slowly, the wagons will be extremely full, combines will be slow down the road, we don't brake quickly, we slow (down) very slowly, not unlike a transport truck," said Colvin.

He asks that motorists be patient and cautious when they come up to a tractor and wagons, or a combine, and only pass when it is safe.

"I'd like to remind people that you'll be at a stop light far longer than you'll be behind farm equipment."

Colvin said farmers want to get home to their families safely, just like all motorists do.

"When there's a collision with farm equipment, invariably, it is the car (that's damaged) and the passengers and the driver that are injured, more so than the farmer and the farm equipment. So, it's really incumbent on the drivers of the (passenger) vehicles to be careful. You're the one that's going to pay the highest price and that's something that we don't want to see, nor do you."

Colvin said the agriculture community is obligated to be visible at night by keeping lights in working order and having slow moving safety triangles on their equipment.

"But again, we're slow moving. I've heard of people hitting vehicles that they thought were parked, because it's a tractor with light and it's going down the road, and they weren't parked, but the result was a serious injury."

Colvin said he drives wagons down roads often and is "very nervous" on the busier roads because of the speed vehicles are approaching him at.

"We move at all hours because we have to. We take the crop off when the weather is right. We don't have the luxury of waiting until it's daylight and perfect conditions and we don't want to be on the main, busy roads any longer than we have to. So, please be patient and please be very careful when we're turning left and when we're crossing lanes. We're slow, we're heavy, and we're big, and bulky."

Colvin said farmers are also legally obligated by the Ministry of Transportation to stay on the main travelled part of the road.

"It's nerve wracking as a farmer driving on higher speed highways. We don't want to be on them and to think that we can pull off to the shoulder, we can't. That's very dangerous if we do that. Wagons can tip. The tractor can slide in the gravel and be off the road and tip over. So, we have to stay on the travelled portion of the road."

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