Slow down and be vigilant on the roads

FBD urges all farmers and agricultural contractors to slow down and light up when on the roads.

This has never been more pertinent, as due to Covid-19 the country roads are busier with walkers, runners and cyclists. Sadly, this year there has already been some serious and fatal accidents involving agriculture vehicles on the road.

Human error

Human error is the main cause of serious accidents on our roads.

Accident contributor factors include excessive speed, inexperienced operators, distraction, overloading of trailers, lack of adequate lighting, poor driver visibility, oversized loads, muck on the road and poor mechanical condition of agricultural machinery and trailed implements.

It is a fact that most accidents involving farm machinery on the road can be prevented by putting some basic safety measures in place.

Only experienced, competent operators with at least a Class W licence should be allowed to drive mechanically propelled vehicles on the road. Drivers must never use a hand-held mobile when driving as it is illegal and dangerous; it leads to distraction and it reduces the driver’s control of the vehicle.

Most agricultural vehicles and trailed implements are very heavy and have a high centre of gravity and this means that they are slow to stop and can easily go out of control and turn over when doing excessive speeds. Because of this, it is imperative that they are always driven at a sensible speed.

Be vigilant of recreational users

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, extra care needs to be taken on country roads due to the higher than normal volume of recreational users on the road.

FBD also encourages all pedestrians and cyclists to wear high visibility vests, use the correct side of the road, keep in a single file and listen out for road vehicles especially when using narrow country roads.

Maintain vehicles

Maintaining vehicles and trailed implements in a road-worthy condition is essential as mechanical faults are one of the main contributing factors to road accidents involving agricultural machinery.

Lights, indicators, brakes, tyres, windows, mirrors, wipers, steering and hydraulics are a few of the main features that need to be checked. Poorly lit-up agricultural machinery and machinery with no indicators are lethal for oncoming and overtaking vehicles.

It is vital that during lighting up hours, tractors, machinery and trailed implements are adequately lit-up (never use white lights to the rear of a tractor). Machinery on the road must have fully functioning indicators at all times.

Always keep the windows and mirrors clean and maintain the wipers in good working order as it is crucial to ensure good visibility when driving. Agricultural machinery with a poor braking system must never be driven. Ensure that appropriate braking systems are fitted and maintained.

Safe and secure loads

Over-sized loads and vehicles can prove to be very dangerous, especially on narrow winding roads as they take over more than half the road and, because of this, it is imperative that these vehicles are driven with extra care.

A warning vehicle should be driven in front of a combine to warn oncoming traffic to slow down. Care should also be taken to ensure that all loads being carried on vehicles or trailers are well secured to prevent materials falling or spilling onto the public road.

Signage

Warning signs used correctly can reduce the chances of an accident occurring.

During harvest time, warning signs should be placed at strategic places along roadways and at entrances to farms and fields, especially at concealed entrances, to warn passing traffic to slow down as large machinery is using the roadway.

Clean-up

The Roads Act, 1993, states that it is an offence to allow stones, clay or any other material to remain on a public road where, by doing so, it would cause a hazard or potential hazard to people using the road and obstruct or interfere with the safe use of the road.

With this in mind, drivers of agricultural machinery must try to maintain roads in a clean manner.

Remember: Always drive at a safe speed and be aware of other road users.

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