Due to drier conditions, farmers are forecasting a shorter more intense harvest season than last year. With up to 10 million tonnes of grain to be moved, there will be a noticeable increase in heavy vehicle and farm machinery movements from mid-October.
Authorities are urging motorists and harvest vehicle drivers to take extra care and share the road safely through NSW’s grain belt as the new harvest gets into swing.
A new campaign supported by Transport for NSW, GrainCorp, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and state farming networks is focusing on making harvest season as safe as possible, with 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,” said Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison.
“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.”
Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW Tara Moriarty added, “Harvest is the biggest and most stressful time of the year for many of our growers, as they work hard making a significant contribution to our $23.1 billion primary industries economy.
“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 safe on our roads.