Farmers aren’t confident in other drivers’ abilities to recognize the sign
By Diego Flammini
Ontario producers are wary that other drivers can identify an important sign attached to ag equipment.
Only 22 per cent of respondents to an Ontario Federation of Agriculture poll felt that drivers can recognize a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) sign. The other 78 per cent of participants said drivers can’t identify it.
The orange and yellow triangle-shaped sign warns drivers that a vehicle moves at 40 km/h (24 mph) or less. The sign can also be seen on construction equipment, forklifts and other low-speed vehicles.
The poll’s results highlight the disconnect between farmers and non-farmers, said George Alton, a beef producer from Huron County.
“If someone drives behind a bulldozer they would see the sign and understand it, but suddenly if it’s on a tractor or another piece of farm equipment they don’t know what it is,” he told Farms.com.
Some producers feel the ag community has a responsibility to ensure the signs are being used properly.
Attaching SMVs to fixed objects like mailboxes is prohibited, the Ministry of Transportation says.
Farmers who use the sign in this manner could be sending mixed signals to other drivers, said Robert Clark, a cash crop producer from Carleton County.
“I see those signs on fence posts and gates all the time,” he told Farms.com. “I don’t think that should be allowed because it misrepresents what the sign is meant for. People might see it on a gate first, then see it on a tractor and think it’s only meant to be reflective but doesn’t mean anything about speed.”
For drivers who don’t pay attention to the sign, law enforcement is a good deterrent.
People understand what it means to receive monetary fine, and local police are proactive in keeping roads safe, said Dale Foster, a cash crop producer from Perth County.
“The best thing up here is the police,” he said. “They track the drivers down and hit them in the wallet where it hurts the most.”
Education campaigns could help drivers identify the SMVs.
Organizations should explore ways to emphasize the importance of road safety and understanding what an SMV is, farmers say.
“Whether it’s through newspaper ads, radio or even television commercials, there has to be a way to let people know what the sign is and what it means,” Alton said.
“Something needs to be done,” Clark said. “Especially around harvest when there’s so much farm equipment on the road. It can even just be signs on the side of the road as people enter a rural area. A simple sign to warn them of farm equipment and what the SMV means would help.”