Every year, farmers must share the road with other motorists. However, cohabitation is often not harmonious. On many occasions the farmers get screamed at and interfere with traffic. Raising awareness in the media is desired by many farmers.
No, Joël Marcoux is not a spokesperson for farmers. The man from Sainte-Marthe is simply a farmer who wants to talk about agricultural road safety to demonstrate his reality. Right from the start, Mr. Marcoux made it clear that when he could get close enough on the shoulder to let other road users pass, he is happy to do so. However, this is not always possible. The various agricultural machinery are wide and very heavy.
“In my case, 90% of my land is nearby, says Joël Marcoux. So, I’m not on the road for long periods of time. When I am there and I can move over, I do. But the reality is that sometimes it is impossible. I have already moved to the shoulder and the ground was too soft. I stalled and it cost $1500 in repairs.”
It should not be assumed that farmers who take to the road to work from one field to another do so without worries. “People need to understand that being on the road behind the wheel of agricultural machinery is not a walk in the park, says the man who farms 250 hectares of organic land. You must be extremely vigilant. There are wires, trees, the width of the road and more. Sometimes farmers don’t even see motorists following them. I have witnessed road rage on more than one occasion. I saw motorists drive on private property just to pass me. Few drivers know this but following a tractor for a distance of two kilometers is the equivalent of waiting at a red light. I have never seen anyone get mad at a red light though.”
Not designed for the road
Handling an agricultural machinery works in your favour when it is used in a field. However, when travelling on the road, the maneuverability is not there. “It’s far from driving like a car, says Mr. Marcoux. In addition to not behaving the same, it does not stop the same. Accidents happen every year and it is always the farmers who are blamed. But this is far from always being the case. I have already been honked by a vehicle following me, but the driver did not see that there was a cyclist in front of me.”
Vehicles with an orange triangle are considered slow moving vehicles. Article 344 of the Highway Safety Code states that you can pass a slow vehicle if the manoeuvre is carried out in a safe manner, even on the continuous double line. Of course, the driver must ensure that the opposite lane is free of all traffic for a sufficient distance to pass.
Every year, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec broadcasts advertisements on drinking and driving and the importance of motorists and cyclists properly sharing the road. Mr. Marcoux believes that awareness must also be raised for the presence of farmers on the road.
“There is a lack of knowledge among road users, he believes. There is a procedure for passing agricultural machinery, but few drivers know it. When spring arrives, the government should launch an awareness campaign. Our job is to put food on people’s tables, if we want that to continue, we must give ourselves the means to do so.”