Top tips for motorists sharing public roads with farm machinery

There is set to be an increased volume of farm machinery travelling on public roads in the coming weeks as spring progresses and motorists have been urged to exercise caution.

Mayo County Council has appealed to road users to exercise “tolerance” if they are caught behind farm machinery in the coming weeks and to “give farmers a break“.

Also Read: 'Farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads'

In a recent statement, the county council outlined a number of top tips for motorists to keep in mind when sharing public roads with farm machinery.

It called on motorists to reduce their speed immediately after seeing a slow-moving vehicle emblem.

A car travelling at 80kph can close a 90m gap (the length of a football field) and overtake a tractor moving at 25kph in about four seconds. If a motorist does not begin to slow down as soon as they see a farm vehicle, they might not have time to avoid a collision, it added.

Large equipment or a load can block part of the farm machinery operator’s rear-view mirror. Road users are reminded that, if they can’t see the driver, the driver may not be able to see them.

Meanwhile, extra caution is required on wet pavements or when mud and debris from tractor tyres are deposited on roadways, creating slippery conditions, according to Mayo County Council.

On wet roads, the stopping distance can be increased as much as five times.

Meeting or overtaking farm machinery

Motorists are encouraged to yield to wide approaching vehicles, as farm equipment is often wider than a normal traffic lane.

Continuing, the council said: “It is illegal and very dangerous to pass farm equipment in a no passing area. The relatively slow speed of farm equipment does not make it safe to pass in situations that are not otherwise lawful.

Image source: Adrian Leech Photography

“When passing be extra cautious. Tractors and other equipment may be wider than they look from behind. Machinery that is half on the road and half on the shoulder may suddenly move completely on the road to avoid hitting obstacles such as mailboxes, road signs and bridges.

“Be sure there is adequate distance for you to clear the equipment and pass safely,” it added.

As well as this, the council warned motorists and other road users to make sure that farm machinery is not turning left or right before attempting an overtaking manoeuvre.

Due to the size of modern equipment, farm machinery operators often have to make wide turns.

Motorists were warned not to assume that equipment is pulling in to the left-hand side of the road to allow it to pass, as the farm machinery could be turning right and may require a wide turning angle.

Likewise, sometimes to make a left turn, the driver may have to fade to the right.

Mayo County Council asked motorists to be patient, as farm machinery can’t travel at high speeds. It added that most farmers will move to the side of the road to let traffic pass when they are able to do so safely.

Concluding, it said: “The next time you find yourself sharing the road with farm equipment, take a moment to appreciate the farmer’s life and be thankful for the food they provide. Making good driving decisions will help get you both safely to your destinations.”