As the harvesting season shifts into high gear, farmers often need to move equipment on roadways. A slow moving vehicle (SMV) sign warns road users to proceed carefully: the vehicle displaying the sign is travelling at 40 km/h (25 mph) or less.
If you see a vehicle with an SMV sign, reduce your speed and stay well back. The SMV sign appears on the rear of vehicles between 0.6 metres (2 ft.) and 2 metres (6 ft.) above the roadway.
Also watch out for slow-moving farm vehicles just crossing the road. They are not required to display an SMV sign.
Buggies are vehicles too
Every year collisions occur between motorists and horse-drawn buggies in OntarIo communities where horse-drawn vehicles are a mode of transportation.
According to Aaron Bowman, secretary of the Old Order Mennonite Safety Committee, “When horses and cars collide, the horse is often the biggest thing in the equation. They’re temperamental and have their own dispositions. A horse is not a perfectly predictable machine.”
Bowman notes that all Old Order buggies are now required to carry reflective tape, a slow moving vehicle emblem and front and tail lights. The safety committee works with MTO, OPP, local police, WSPS and several other organizations to increase awareness of roadway safety issues. Efforts are being made to standardize lighting and reflective tape on buggies throughout Ontario, and a safety brochure is being distributed to buggy drivers counselling them on how to operate their vehicle safely.
How to respect the safety of buggy drivers on the roadway
Keep these considerations in mind when approaching a buggy. By definition a horse-drawn vehicle is a vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act, and as such deserves the same respect as any other vehicle on the road.
Watch for yellow road signs warning motorists that buggies use the road.
Recognize buggy drivers’ right to be on the road. Give them enough space to be mindful of their safety and yours, and pass only when a safe opportunity arises.
Horses are unpredictable and easily startled by loud noises and unexpected movement. When approaching, slow down. When passing, give horse-drawn equipment plenty of room.
Leave space between your vehicle and buggies stopping at an intersection. They may back up a little after coming to a complete stop.
Making left turns from a centre lane can be a difficult manoeuvre. Give buggies the time and space to turn safely.
Keep in mind the challenges these vehicles face, and respond accordingly. Buggies driving on a shoulder may need to move back onto the highway because of obstacles such as parked vehicles, mountable curbs, or reduced shoulder width.