AS farmers prepare to transport millions of tonnes of grain across Victoria's roads in the coming months, Regional Roads Victoria has issued a warning urging drivers to be aware of the risks.
Regional Roads Victoria regional director Michael Bailey said an influx of trucks, tractors and heavy agricultural machinery are expected to be on the road between November 2021 and March 2022, thanks to strong winter crops.
"Farmers and crops are a vital part of regional Victoria's economy, playing a key role in the state's recovery from coronavirus," he said.
"They are preparing for another bumper harvest season, which means we can expect to see more trucks, tractors and machinery on our roads."
The warning comes after a crash in St Helen's Plains, in which a Ford sedan collided with a tractor on Horsham Wal-Wal Road.
The message was echoed by Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Transport group chair and Northern Grampians Shire councillors Kevin Erwin, who said motorists needed to respect the increased presence of machinery on the roads.
"Just be aware of the risk. Particularly coming into harvest season where there will be a lot more machinery and trucks on the road," he said.
"Just be aware and give them space because they can take up a bit of space these days. Just be careful and slow down. Safety is the main thing.
"We have got through COVID hopefully and we want to see everyone travel along safely. Just be aware of the harvest season in rural Victoria."
Mr Bailey said heavy agricultural machinery moved slower than other heavy vehicles, often inhabiting a large section of regional Victorian roads and even crossing dividing lines.
"Drivers should slow down when they see machinery, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle and not attempt to pass until they have a clear view ahead and are absolutely certain it is safe to do so," he said.
"Wider or slower vehicles may also have a pilot vehicle travelling ahead - it is important that drivers obey directions and pay attention to any signage."
The safety reminder was also directed at drivers and operators of heavy machinery, who must ensure they are always fit to be behind the wheel.
"We know driver fatigue is one of the biggest dangers on our roads," he said.
"Farmers often work longer hours during harvest and need to be aware of how they're feeling and ensure they are alert.
"If operators of heavy machinery feel fatigued or distracted, they should stop as soon as is safely possible and rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes, or find another licensed driver to take their place.
"It is every motorist's responsibility to keep our roads safe and ensure all Victorians get home safely to their loved ones at the end of the day."
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