A new study has found large agricultural vehicles (LAVs) pose a relatively low safety risk on our roads, while recommending more public education to minimise future risks.
The report by James Cook University, with assistance from the National Farmers’ Federation, will form the basis of a new campaign for all road users travelling in rural and regional Australia, and help build driver confidence in interactions with LAVs.
Research outcomes show there are small number of LAV related incidents nationally – approximately 56 crashes and 2 deaths per annum. In 2016 there were 1,295 road deaths, thus based on the average figures 0.15% of these deaths would have been LAV related.
“Ready access to our roads is crucial for farmers, as we go about producing food and fibre for Australia and the world,” Chair of the NFF Economics Committee, Wayne Dunford said.
“What we see in this report is that, relative to other road users, agricultural vehicles are a relatively low safety risk.”
The report has also highlighted the need for increased education for the broader public to improve safety awareness around LAVs.
“While we want to improve road access for LAVs, we cannot afford to be complacent about safety,” Mr Dunford said.
“One recommendation is to add a section in the drivers licencing process to educate young driers about what to do around LAVs, which is certainly something that that should be looked at.”
The use of agricultural vehicles on roads is controlled by state road managers, with requirements placed on farmers to have signage, lights and /or pilots depending on the size of the vehicle, which farmers are happy to comply with.
Road managers often say they need to change permits and restrictions because of safety risks. However, prior to this research report, little work has assessed the actual safety risks of agricultural vehicles on roads and the appropriateness of restrictions to deliver higher safety outcomes.
“Especially in a drought like we are in right now, facilitating safe road access for farmers is a great way to remove red tape and support our farmers without spending any public money,” Mr Dunford said.
“This report shows that large agricultural vehicles are a very small road safety risk, and we hope that politicians take a good hard look at these findings and make road access for agricultural vehicles easier.
“We are all for increasing awareness of all drivers about what to do when encountering agricultural vehicles on the road to make the roads safe, but let’s work from the facts not assumptions.”
This research is part of the National Farmers’ Federation’s Sharing the Road Education Campaign (agricultural industry) which is funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiatives Program with the support of the Commonwealth Government.