HARVEST vehicle drivers and other motorists are being urged to take extra care on roads through cropping regions in New South Wales as harvest swings into top gear.
Dryer conditions have farmers forecasting a shorter and more intense harvest season than last year, but with up to 10 million tonnes of grain still to be moved there will be a marked increase in heavy vehicle and farm machinery movements across regional NSW from mid-October.
A new campaign supported by Transport for NSW, GrainCorp, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, and state farming networks is focused on making harvest season as safe as possible.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said the campaign will have a particular emphasis on managing driver fatigue.
“Harvest season is an exciting time of year for the state’s cropping communities but also an exhausting one as they combine regular farm work with getting grain to the silo,” Ms Aitchison said.
“The combination of long days and heavy machinery can be a fatal one unless all operators are aware of the dangers of fatigue and are doing all they can to manage it.
“Studies have shown that being awake for 17 hours has a similar effect on your performance and reaction time behind the wheel as a blood alcohol content of .05, so we ask all drivers to ensure you are well rested before starting your journey and allow plenty of travel time.
“If you feel tired while driving or experience any of the early warning signs such as yawning, restlessness or sore eyes, pull over in a safe place and have a rest.”
However, Ms Aitchison said it was not only harvest vehicle operators who needed to take extra care.
“The harvest period coincides with school holiday periods and is also a time when we see plenty of caravanners travelling on our rural and regional roads.
“Our roads are there to share and this this mix of farming machinery, grain trucks and other traffic along major freight and travel routes makes that message more important than ever.”
Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW Tara Moriarty said harvest can be “the biggest and most stressful time of the year for many of our growers”.
“The pressures of drying conditions across many parts of NSW add another layer of stress to this time of year,” Ms Moriarty said.
“During this year’s harvest, it’s crucial that growers, contractors and workers make sure they’re aware of and comply with the requirements when using heavy machinery on our regional roads.
“In addition to a busy harvest period, we are also likely to see fodder being transported north as drought conditions continue to develop and an increase in livestock being transported to access markets and adjustment.
“I encourage all road users to take care on country roads and be extra cautious when you see farm machinery and trucks.”
Message boards will be placed on key regional routes throughout harvest season reminding all drivers of the need to be road safe and to take proper breaks.
Source: Transport for NSW