Motorists may have seen an increased number of combines and farm machinery take to rural and major highways, as harvest is in full swing in most areas of Saskatchewan.
Due to the size of combines, sprayers, and other equipment, motorists will need to use extra caution when approaching one this harvest season.
Constable Greg Dowd with the Saskatchewan RCMP says that one thing motorists will have to keep in mind with these machines is their speed.
“They’re not designed to move very fast,” says Cst. Dowd. “Farmers are trying to just get from Point A to Point B, so a lot of people get impatient when they get in behind them. It’s best to just take your time and let them get to where they need to get to. Also, because they’re so large, they create a lot of blind spots so don’t get in a rush to try and pass them either if you can’t see. Make sure it’s clear before you try to get around them.”
With how slow these machines travel, motorists could approach them quicker than anticipated. Cst. Dowd recommends being vigilant of the road ahead to keep an eye out for heavy machinery.
“Especially if you’re going up and down some of the hilly areas of Saskatchewan, of course, you come over a hill and suddenly there is a slow-moving piece of equipment there,” adds Cst. Dowd. “The best advice you can give anyone is to make sure they’re travelling at speed limits. Speed limits are there not because of how your vehicle can handle that speed, it’s more so for reaction times.”
Machines also take to gravel roads to move from field to field. Gravel roads do provide less traction for vehicles and have a lot more equipment using them, so that’s why Cst. Dowd advises motorists to yield to machinery at uncontrolled intersections.
On gravel roads, motorists are reminded that the speed limit unless otherwise posted is 80 km/h.
Though it is crucial that motorists be safe around equipment this harvest season, farmers also have to be vigilant to those they’re sharing the road with.
“If it’s a wide load that it’s clearly marked with orange warning flags at all corners of their equipment, so people know where the edges are when they’re coming up on them. Depending on the size and speed, they usually need to have safety vehicles in front and behind.”
In addition, equipment operators need to be aware and use caution around narrow spaces like a bridge.
“They need to move to the centre of the road to get past those, which means on a two-lane highway they’re blocking both lanes of traffic. They need to make sure it’s clear and safe to do so before they start taking up all those lanes.”
A lot of farmers harvest their crops at night, which means in some instances driving on area roadways after the sun goes down. In these circumstances, it is recommended to watch out for the machines flashing warning lights and use caution when approaching them.
Drivers out on the road this harvest season should not be distracted, make sure all passengers are wearing a seatbelt, come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights, and don’t drink and drive.