The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) have issued a joint appeal to stress road safety this silage season, particularly with more pedestrians and cyclists on the roads due to Covid-19.
“Normally at this time of the year, both the IFA and the RSA appeal for motorists to be on the lookout for tractors, trailers and other agricultural machinery exiting from fields and farmyards and, while traffic volumes have reduced, this advice still stands,” said IFA president Tim Cullinan.
“However, we are making a special appeal this year in light of the current situation to ask that anyone driving farm machinery – especially on rural roads – cut back on their speed and understand that around every corner could be a neighbouring family or friend out for a walk, jog or a cycle within 5km of their home,” Cullinan stressed.
We should all expect the unexpected. We have learned already this year, whether on the farm or on the road, there is no place for complacency.
This point was reiterated by Michael Rowland, the director of safety research and driver education at the RSA, who said: “We are coming into one of the busiest times of the year for farmers and, despite the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in, this work must go on.
“Indeed, it is because of the Covid-19 pandemic that this year we are asking drivers of farming machinery to be more aware than ever of what is going on around them,” Rowland added.
He continued: “With increased numbers of people of all ages out walking, running and cycling, it is imperative that we all take greater care and follow the rules of the road. Coupled with a gradual increase in the distance people can travel from home, and an increase in agricultural vehicles on the roads for silage, the risks increase.
We would remind every road-user not to be distracted by wearing earphones while out walking or cycling and urge drivers not to use a mobile phone while driving tractors. Such distractions can prevent those out walking from hearing danger approaching or prevent drivers from noticing the family out walking or cycling around that corner.
For pedestrians, they are being urged to use a footpath when one is provided, or if one is not provided, to walk as near as possible to the right-hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
Pedestrians should ensure they are visible to other users, cyclists and vehicles, especially when walking in the early morning and late evening. They are also being advised to always assume that they will encounter traffic on the road, regardless of the current restrictions on travel.
Drivers of agricultural vehicles are being reminded that they are subject to all road traffic legislation. They are required to carry the appropriate licence and farm vehicles are required to be taxed, insured and must be roadworthy, with fully operational lights front and rear.
For farmers, they are asked to keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Plan and prepare for all work with machinery. Always allow adequate time for the job;
- Always practice the ‘Safe Stop’ procedure. Reverse park safely, handbrake on, controls in neutral, lower all attachments, engine off and remove keys;
- Carry out regular checks and maintenance of all farm vehicles, particularly brakes;
- Never remove or modify guards in order to save time;
- Only use machines if you know how to use them safely and have received suitable training;
- Always drive at a safe speed and know your limits.