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How to keep yourself safe while sharing the road

COURTNEY McCLURE,

The Standard

NORTH DURHAM: It’s harvest time again, with it come vehicles with orange triangles on the back. This sign means caution: slow-moving vehicle.

The Region of Durham sent out a press release in late August, expressing the importance of sharing the road with slow-moving vehicles.

Most slow-moving vehicles are harvesting vehicles or heavy farm equipment, like large tractors and combines. While driving along rural roadways, it’s important to keep an eye out for these vehicles.

However, most farm equipment will have an orange caution sign on the back of it. According to the “Share the road with farm machinery” on the Region of Durham website, most farm equipment travels at about 40 kilometres per hour.

We should always, slow our vehicle down as soon as we see a slow-moving large farm vehicle, making sure we’re prepared to stop, if needed, while driving behind, or close to, these vehicles. Remember: Farm vehicles may not always have brake lights or a turn signal. Likewise, the vehicle operator may not always be visible, or have clear traffic visibility, and so may not use needed hand signs to signal what they are doing.

Always use caution when passing farm vehicles. Sometimes, wide farm vehicles, or ones with long extensions, must “swing” wide to turn onto other roads. For example, if a tractor appears to be turning right, don’t pass it. It may actually be turning left.

Sometimes operators will pull off onto the side of the road, to give the cars behind them an opportunity to pass. However, this isn’t always the case, and some vehicles are too large or wide, so the operator cannot safely pull themselves off the road. The weight and shoulder conditions also play a part in why some operators will or cannot pull onto the side of the road for other vehicles to pass. Another of their reasons to resist pulling over can be to avoid collisions with things like mailboxes on the side of the road, which can be hard for drivers of other vehicles to see when they are driving behind a farm vehicle. So, patience and understanding are needed on our part to accommodate our farmers necessary use of the roads during this season.

Another practical caution is, do not pass a slow-moving vehicle and then slow down or stop, once you’re in front of them. The equipment cannot break as fast as smaller vehicles like cars.

It’s always important to give farmers a lot of room in order to safely pass their vehicles and equipment on roadways. Also, never pass farming equipment while at an intersection.

For more information on sharing the road responsibly, go to the Durham Region website, at durham.ca, and look under the headline “Share the road with farm machinery.”

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