New research has shown that collisions between agricultural machinery and third parties are 52% more likely between the start of May and the end of September.

This is according to the latest claims data from the rural insurance branch of the National Farmers’ Union, NFU Mutual.

The data showed that, as May to September is the busiest time for farmers harvesting silage, hay and arable crops, the likelihood of accidents involving agricultural machinery rises.

The rural insurer has said it is urging all rural road users to take extra care over the coming months to avoid unnecessary danger.

Data showed that, on average, there were 423 of these accidents per month during the silage cutting, hay making, and harvesting season, compared to 249 per month between October and April.

As well as an increase in agricultural traffic, the summer months also coincide with the school holidays and a greater amount of leisure traffic, with road users not necessarily used to rural roads, which can further increase the risk of accidents, NFU Mutual said.

Rural road safety specialist at NFU Mutual, Jade Devlin, is encouraging rural communities and visitors alike to remain aware of tractors, trailers, and other agricultural machinery on the road.

“With silaging underway 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,” she explained.

“Unfortunately, our claims data shows that accidents involving these agricultural vehicles and third parties are over 50% more likely in the harvesting season, so we’re sharing some advice on how everyone can stay safe on rural roads this spring and summer.

“Agricultural vehicles are generally large, wide and slow, which can tempt road users to overtake, but it’s vital that you remain patient and only overtake when it’s safe to do so – when you can see a clear road ahead, there are no field openings, and you have space to pass.”

Rural road safety

Devlin said farmers and contractors cannot drive too quickly, but they will generally either be going a short distance to an adjacent field or will – and should – pull over to allow built-up traffic to pass.

However, she stressed that other road users must be patient in order to prevent and avoid any unnecessary accidents.

“Motorists and cyclists should be patient, give agricultural vehicles room to turn and not drive too closely to them, which can be dangerous and can obstruct your view before overtaking,” she said.

Potholes on rural road

“It’s important to remember that rural roads are vital arteries for our agricultural industry, allowing farmers to bring in the harvest which helps feed the population, as well as valued spaces which allow us to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

“Mutual respect from those who use rural roads for work and for pleasure will ultimately help keep our motorists, cyclists, horse riders and walkers safe this harvest season.”

Reiterating the importance of staying safe on rural roads this summer, Inspector Jem Mountford from Warwickshire Police Roads Policing Unit said road safety is something ever road user needs to practice.

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. With more people using country roads during the summer months, it is important we are all patient and show respect to other road users,” she said.

“If everyone does this, then we can reduce the number of collisions and injuries on these roads.”