Drivers of farm machinery ‘should be aware of traffic building up behind them’

Drivers of farm machinery should be aware of traffic building up behind them when travelling on public roads, according to the President of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Joe Healy.

Healy was speaking as the IFA issued a joint road safety appeal with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) today, July 24.

Both organisations urged road users to take extra care as the number of tractors, trailers and other farm machinery on the roads increases over the summer months.

Around the country, many farmers and contractors are in the midst of the silage cutting season; the cereal harvest is also getting underway.

Healy asked farmers to be “safety conscious” whenever they bring a farm vehicle onto 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,” he said.

Risk of collisions increased

Meanwhile, the RSA’s Chief Executive, Moyagh Murdock, highlighted the fact that the number of tractors and trailers using public roads will “increase dramatically” during this busy period for farmers.

“As a result, the risk of a collision involving a road user and farm machinery has increased. 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 overtake when it’s safe to do so.

“We should all expect the unexpected, as danger could literally be around the next corner,” she concluded.

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

The RSA and the IFA have the following advice for drivers of agricultural tractors and trailers:
  • Ensure that wheels are regularly washed down to avoid carrying mud and stones onto the public road;
  • Ensure that loads are properly secured (using an appropriate restraint method) and be aware of low bridges and overhead power lines;
  • For large farming vehicles, consideration should be given to using an escort vehicle to warn other road users and ensure that tractors are driven at an appropriate speed for the road conditions;
  • 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 also be fitted with lights, reflectors and indicators;
  • Don’t load the trailer in such a way that 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.

Farmers and contractors are also urged to ensure that the drivers they use are competent and do not carry a passenger – unless the tractor is equipped to carry one.

Similarly, the trailer should not be used for transporting people unless it has provision for carrying them.