August means the start of harvest season on the Prairies. Unfortunately, with a higher amount of farm equipment on roads and highways, it also means a higher number of collisions involving farm equipment than any other month.
SGI, Saskatchewan’s provincially owned insurance company, says the province saw an average 27.2 collisions per year involving unregistered farm equipment from 2013-17.
Tyler McMurchy, media relations manager for the crown corporation, said most of them happen in the summer and fall, but collisions occur all year.
“Collisions have occurred in every single month. The peak is August at 3.8 and July at 3.3 collisions per month. Then September and October at 2.8,” McMurchy said.
“In 2018, our preliminary numbers showed only 12 collisions, so it’s been trending down. The injury rate, though, is higher when you are talking about collisions involving farm equipment. Of those 12 collisions, 10 resulted in injuries and two in fatalities so the consequences can be quite severe when people don’t exercise the appropriate amount of caution.”
McMurchy said SGI wants drivers to remember that farm equipment is often slower and bigger than it seems, so it is important to give enough time when trying to pass. He also stresses that sometimes machinery won’t be able to signal their intentions to turn or slow down, which creates a dangerous situation for drivers.
“I looked at some of the descriptions in the accident reports and there were quite a few examples of vehicles striking farm equipment as the machine was turning left, so again, that’s why we talk about the idea that farm equipment might not be able to indicate that it is signaling,” he said.
“It also might not have those brake lights on that tell you it’s slowing down, so that’s something that drivers need to be aware of too.”
Distracted driving is another leading cause of accidents.
“Some cases involve a driver glancing down and rear ending a tractor as a result,” McMurchy said.
“And you can see how that could result from not being aware of how slow the tractor is going in comparison to your speed. If you are coming up on a tractor travelling at 35 km-h and you are travelling at 100, it doesn’t take long to catch up with them.”
If the opportunity to pass doesn’t present itself, McMurchy advised motorists to be patient because often times the machinery is only going a short distance and will soon be off the road.