Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Farmers and seasonal workers are being reminded to take care this harvest when grain carting and moving machinery on the road. Collisions between farm... Keep safe on the road this harvest

Farmers and seasonal workers are being reminded to take care this harvest when grain carting and moving machinery on the road.

Collisions between farm vehicles and other motorists are 61% more likely between the start of May and the end of September, according to the latest figures from NFU Mutual.

Some 25% of motorists people in the UK feel uncomfortable navigating agricultural vehicles on rural roads, says the rural insurer. To avoid unnecessary accidents, all road users should be patient and look out for hazards, it adds.

With the unseasonably wet weather continuing throughout March and April, NFU Mutual is concerned that a rush to complete tasks could lead to an increase in incidents involving tractors, trailers and other farm vehicles.

Holiday traffic

The next few months will see higher volumes of agricultural traffic than in autumn and winter – much of it wider than many people are used too. The summer months also coincide with a greater amount of holiday traffic.

The latest claims data from NFU Mutual shows that collisions between agricultural vehicles and third parties were 61% more likely to occur between the start of May and the end of September 2023 than in any other months.

On average, there were 447 of these accidents per month during silaging,hay-making and harvesting – a rise of 6% on the same period in 2022 – compared to 276 per month between October and April.

NFU Mutual rural road safety specialist Sara Western says: “With silaging under way in many parts of the UK, we’re beginning to see more tractors, trailers and large agricultural machinery such as combine harvesters on our rural roads.

Wide and slow

“Unfortunately, our claims data shows that, year after year, accidents involving these agricultural vehicles and third parties are significantly more likely during the harvesting season.

“Agricultural machinery is larger, wider and slower than other vehicles, which can tempt road users to overtake, but it’s vital to overtake only when it’s safe – when you can see a clear road ahead, there are no field openings, and you have space to pass.

“Where it isn’t possible to allow traffic to pass, motorists and cyclists should remember they are likely driving only a few miles or to the next field opening, so be patient, give agricultural vehicles room to turn and don’t drive too closely to them.”

There were over 1,000 deaths on rural roads in 2022, according to NFU Mutual’s most recent rural road safety report. Published last year, the report analysed the latest Department for Transport statistics.

Advice to farmers

Ensure all equipment is road worthy and pay particular care to trailers which may not have been used for months.

Check brakes and indicators and ensure your vehicle has reflectors and a beacon. Use the Tilly Checklist to inspect your trailer.

Be aware of vulnerable road users or hidden junctions, making contractors aware of these junctions and commonly-used walking, cycling and riding routes.

Familiarise yourself and your contractors with the speed limits for your vehicles.

If your agricultural vehicles leave mud in the road, remember to clean it up.

When turning, indicate in plenty of time and check more than once for road users on your inside.

Be respectful to fellow road users, but only allow them to pass when it is safe to pull over.