Police Clarify Rules of the Road for Farm Equipment

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On December 4th, Peterborough Police officers Rob Videto and Tom White offered local farmers some insight into the Ministry of Transportation regulations for farm equipment at a presentation held at the Township office.  The objective was to clarify some areas of confusion and ensure farm equipment operators understood the legislative requirements and the liability surrounding the operation of this kind of equipment on the road.

Given the size, weight and general nature of some of the equipment travelling on the road, different rules apply to them that are not always understood by the operator and even less understood by many of the drivers around them on the road. The topics raising the most discussion included the conditions surrounding the use of farm plates, documentations required for inspections, travelling on the shoulder of the road.

Photo Karen Graham. Warren Craft gets answers about trucking regulations.

Many in the audience were surprised to learn the extent of the restrictions applied to farm plated vehicles.  These plates can be used on trucks and towed trailers used for the transportation of farm products, commodities, supplies, equipment, building and maintenance items owned by the farmer.  Farm plated vehicles can also be used for the farmer’s personal use, but this privilege only extends to those who actually own the farm, and specifically excludes family members (other than those who have an ownership in the farm) and farm staff.

Equipment used for compensated farm use is subject to much tighter administrative controls than others, and officers discussed the inspection requirements and the liability associated with different types of defects detected during regular inspections.

One of the over-riding considerations around traffic rules for these large, heavy vehicles was ensuring communication with surrounding drivers was clear, and officers explained that casual hand signals like waving traffic around the tractor can be misunderstood.

While normal vehicles are not allowed to travel on the shoulder, farm equipment is allowed and in some cases it is preferred that they do so.  Narrow farm equipment should choose to operate either entirely on the travelled portion of the road or entirely on the shoulder. The slow-moving vehicle sign must be displayed on vehicles travelling 40km/h or less and must be removed if the vehicle exceeds this speed.  When a line of traffic is forming behind a farm vehicle, operators should feel no pressure to pull over to let traffic pass.  Caution should always be exercised when considering the safety of moving a vehicle off the road.

Audience members appreciated the officers taking a pro-active approach to explain some of the issues they are encountering in the community, and the Police staff clearly prefers answering questions over coffee than asking them of a driver through the window at a roadside stop.  KG

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