Motorists have been urged not to forget the help provided by farmers and agricultural contractors in recent days clearing snow as they continue to share public roads with farm machinery.

Mayo County Council has appealed to road users to exercise “tolerance” if they are caught behind farm machinery in the coming weeks and to “give farmers a break“.

Farmers’ workloads are set to increase during spring, which will lead to increasing situations where farm machinery will have to travel on public roads.

In a statement, Mayo County Council said: “The farming community encourages all drivers to exercise caution when approaching tractors and farm implements to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Motorists should recognise that farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads, as does any other motor vehicle.

“Farm equipment is so big and slow, how could you possibly hit a farm vehicle? Consider this: A car travelling at 80kph can close a 90m gap (the length of a football field) and overtake a tractor moving at 25kph in about four seconds.

“If you do not begin to slow down as soon as you see a farm vehicle, you might not have time to avoid a collision,” it said.

According to Noel Gibbons – a road safety officer with Mayo County Council – motorists’ anxiety levels “sky rocket” when they find themselves stuck behind farm machinery.

“We are also asking motorists to show an equal amount of good-will that many farmers showed over the past couple of weeks, helping motorists to keep mobile by clearing snow from driveways and estates,” he said.

He explained that farmers who drive their equipment on the roads will often try to get out of the way when they can; but, they need other drivers to be patient and to wait for the equipment to find a place to pull over.

The keys to sharing the road with farm equipment are caution and patience, Mayo County Council added.

“Even if you have to slow down to 30kph and follow a tractor for two miles, it only takes six minutes of your time – which is equivalent to waiting for two traffic lights,” it said.

As well as this, farmers – who have to bring farm machinery on public roads – were reminded to be aware of high traffic times and to avoid them where possible. If traffic builds up behind them, farmers were urged to pull in and let the traffic pass – where it is safe to do so.