ONTARIO — Farm tractors are treated quite differently from other road users, under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario.
The Workers Safety and Prevention Services (which now includes the former Farm Safety Association of Ontario) published a handy guide to remind everyone — farmers and police officers alike — about the specific rules accommodating farm tractors and similar “self-propelled implements of husbandry,” such as combines. Here’s what it says.
Under the law
Though the law defines tractors and combines as “vehicles,” they are not “motorized vehicles” and aren’t subject to the more extensive rules covering cars, trucks and motorcycles. A licence is not required to drive a tractor or combine on the road but the operator must be at least 16 years old. Younger operators may drive on a public road but only to cross directly across it to get to another field.
Every farm tractor and combine — or anything towed by them — must have a slow-moving vehicle sign attached to the rear, except when directly crossing a highway. The sign must be displayed in the centre of the rear-most vehicle, between 0.6 meters and 2 meters above the roadway. The sign must be clearly visible at a distance of at least 150 meters.
Lights are required on a highway at any time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and at any other time when conditions impede visibility to 150 metres or less. Modern tractors and combines must be equipped with two white lights on the front and at least one red light at the rear.
The law does not limit the number of wagons or trailers that may be towed by a farm tractor or combine.
Each farm wagon or implement being towed must be connected to the towing vehicle by two separate means of attachment (typically hitch and chains). However, this does not apply when towing a farm wagon or implement directly across a road.
When the combined length of the towing vehicle and towed vehicles exceeds 6.1 metres, an amber or green light must be displayed on each side of the towing vehicle.
Licence plates are not required on farm tractors and combines when travelling from farm-to-farm for agricultural purposes, or to and from a repair shop.
Tractors, combines and farm wagons are not required to have vehicle insurance as they are normally included in the farm insurance policy. The farm policy typically applies to a farm wagon or implement towed by a tractor or combine. Otherwise, the towing vehicle’s (such as pickup truck) liability insurance applies.
It is illegal to overtake and pass other vehicles on the right while driving on the road shoulder. Farm safety groups advise farmers to drive on the regular vehicle lane.
It’s a criminal offence to operate a tractor or combine on or off the highway when impaired by alcohol or drugs. If convicted, you will be banned from driving a vehicle, and even your own tractor on your own property, for at least a year on first offence.