The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) have this afternoon urged road users to take extra care as the number of tractors, trailers and other farm machinery using the roads increases.

Listen to the safety appeal here RSA Harvest Time 27-05-10.

The appeal comes as many farmers around the country are gearing up for a second cut of silage. The grain harvest has also begun this week, with the first of the winter barley being cut. More than 2.2 million tonnes of grain, oilseeds and protein crops and approximately 1.5 million tonnes of straw will be moving off the fields and into stores and yards over the next  three months.

In an effort to raise awareness of this increase in agricultural traffic, the RSA and the IFA will be broadcasting their 30-second radio advert on national and local media this week.

Advising road users, Noel Brett, CEO of Road Safety Authority, said: “This is a very busy time of year for farmers, with silage cutting and grain harvesting underway.  The number of tractors and trailers out using the roads will increase dramatically. As a result the risk of a collision involving a road user and farm machinery has increased. As such I am asking all drivers to be on the lookout for tractors, trailers and other farm machinery exiting from fields and farm yards. If you are travelling behind farm machinery, please be patient and only over take when it’s safe to do so. We should all expect the unexpected, as danger could literally be around the next corner.”

Drivers of agricultural vehicles are being reminded that they are covered by road traffic laws on driver licensing, insurance, standards in relation to vehicle roadworthiness, vehicle lighting and motor tax.

IFA President John Bryan said: “I am asking farmers to be safety conscious whenever bringing a farm vehicle on to the public road. Farmers should be aware of traffic building up behind them and keep left where possible to allow other vehicles pass safely. I would appeal to other road users to show patience when encountering farm machinery on the road. With understanding on both sides, the roads can be safer for everybody.”

Brett also urged farmers to ensure “that the drivers you use are competent and do not carry a passenger unless the tractor is equipped to carry one. The trailer should not be used for transporting people unless it has provision for carrying them”.

He added: “Your driving mirror must provide an adequate view of the road to the rear and all agricultural vehicles must have proper working brakes on both tractor and trailer units. They must be fitted with lights, reflectors and indicators. Don’t load the trailer in such a way that it would make it unstable on the road, and beware of low bridges, overhanging trees, overhead cables and uneven road surfaces which could cause the load to shift and possibly overturn.”

Drivers of agricultural tractors and trailers are reminded to ensure that wheels are regularly washed down to avoid carrying mud and stones onto the public road. Be particularly careful when transporting material such as silage, slurry, sand and gravel so that it does not spill on the road and pose a road safety risk.

For large farming vehicles consider using an escort vehicle to warn other road users and ensure that tractors are driven at an appropriate speed for the road conditions.

Image Shutterstock