With silage season getting underway across the country, there are certain elements that tractor drivers – and fellow road-users – must keep in mind over the coming months, according to An Garda Síochána.
In a short statement offering tips and advice to drivers on social media over the weekend, Gardaí based in the Laois-Offaly division outlined what to look out for.
“At this time of year, there will also be an increase in the number of agricultural vehicles using the road,” the statement said.
“If stuck behind a tractor, be patient and don’t be tempted into any foolish or rash overtaking.
“Always be on the look-out for farm machinery leaving fields and farm yards.”
“Farmers need to be safety conscious too. If the traffic is building up behind, keep left where safe to allow others pass safely. Please put away the phone while driving farm machinery on public roads.”
Providing a brief checklist, the Gardaí highlighted that drivers of agricultural vehicles should also be mindful of the following:
- Wash down wheels regularly to avoid carrying mud and stones onto the public road;
- 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 load/overload trailers so as to cause them to be unstable on the road;
- 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 always provide an adequate view of the road and all agricultural vehicles must have proper working brakes on both tractor and trailer units;
- All agricultural vehicles must be fitted with lights, reflectors and indicators;
- Large farming vehicles should consider using an escort vehicle to warn other road users and ensure that tractors are driven at an appropriate speed for the road conditions.
Turning to agricultural employers and managers, the Garda silage season safety statement urged:
“Don’t let anyone inexperienced use machinery. Ensure that equipment/machinery has been serviced properly and is in good working order.
“Be careful when using equipment which you may not have used for some time. Do not risk it – if you do not know how to use the equipment, get someone to advise you or find out how to use it safely,” the Garda post stressed.
On a wider note, for farm safety in general, the midlands Gardaí advised: “particular care is needed while using chainsaws”.
It was also stressed that children should always be supervised on farms and visitors – including family relatives – may not be familiar with a farm environment and should be accompanied when out on the farm.