The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) are appealing to motorists to take extra care as the number of tractors, trailers and other farm machinery using the roads increases during the summer season.
The appeal comes as farmers and contractors have started cutting silage around the country.
Both the RSA and IFA want farming contractors and other drivers to remember to be mindful of other road users, and to always be on the lookout for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
Sam Waide, chief executive, RSA said: “This is a very busy time of year for farmers. The number of tractors and trailers out using the roads will increase dramatically.
“I am asking all drivers and motorcyclists to be on the lookout for tractors, trailers and other farm machinery on the road, turning into and out of fields.
“If you are travelling behind farm machinery, please be patient and only overtake when it’s safe to do so. Farmers should be aware of traffic building up behind them and keep left where possible, and if safe to do so, to allow other vehicles pass safely.
“Use your indicators to warn other road users of manoeuvres, and never use your mobile phone whilst driving on the road. We should all expect the unexpected, as danger could literally be around the next corner,” Waide added.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “It is a busy time on farms at the moment as farming contractors bring in silage around the country.
“Both the IFA and the RSA are renewing our annual appeal for motorists to be on the lookout for tractors, trailers and other agricultural machinery exiting from fields and farmyards.
“We are also asking anyone driving farm machinery, especially on rural roads, to cut back on their speed, not to get distracted and understand that around every corner could be a neighbouring family or friend out for a walk, a cycle or maybe riding a horse,” Cullinan added.
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, including fully operational lights front and rear.
Drivers of agricultural vehicles are reminded:
- To wash down wheels regularly to avoid carrying mud and stones onto the public road;
- To 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;
- Not to overload trailers so as to cause them to be unstable on the road;
- To look out for low bridges, overhanging trees, overhead cables and uneven road surfaces which could cause the load to shift and possibly overturn;
- The 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 also must be fitted with lights, reflectors and indicators;
- That large farming vehicles should consider using an escort vehicle to warn other road users;
- To ensure that tractors are driven at an appropriate speed for the road conditions.
Farmers are also being reminded of the following safety tips:
- 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;
- Make sure that plough lamps/work lights are never used when travelling on public roads. Amber flashing lights give adequate notice of slower vehicles to other road users.
Ireland’s fifth government Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by 50% over the next 10 years.
This means reducing deaths on Ireland’s roads annually from 144 to 72 or lower and reducing serious injuries from 1,259 to 630 or lower by 2030.
The strategy is the first step in achieving the 2020 Programme for Government commitment of bringing Ireland to ‘Vision Zero’. This is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by the year 2050.