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Agricultural road safety

Agriculture is one of Warwickshire's and West Mercia's major industries and the use of public roads by agricultural machinery is a necessity for many in the industry. The road network across Warwickshire and West Mercia is of fundamental importance to this industry but farming activities can have a significant effect on the flow and appearance of our rural roads.

Agricultural Road Safety leaflet
 
A significant proportion of the collisions involving agricultural vehicles occur on rural roads with 60mph speed limits, and many near turnings into farms. The typical causes of collisions are poor overtaking manoeuvres and inappropriate speed, with drivers finding themselves unable to stop in time when presented with a slow moving or wide vehicle.  A further hazard is caused by mud and debris being brought onto the roads by tractors and other vehicles that have been working in the fields.

Download our pdf icon Agricultural Road Safety leaflet [13Mb]

Advice to farmers and contractors:

Mud on the roads

mud on road
 
Under the Highways Act (1980), farmers and contractors have a legal obligation to ensure their vehicles are cleared of any mud or debris before entering the public highway. Excess mud on the road is a danger to cars, motorbikes and cyclists and can change the way a vehicle handles, causing skidding, especially in wet conditions.

Try to programme and organise your work to deal with the problem before it occurs by cleaning mud from vehicles before they enter the highway. On some occasions if this can't be avoided, it is a farmer or contractor's duty to ensure this is cleaned.

Drivers of agricultural vehicles or anyone wishing to report any issues regarding debris or mud on the road can contact the following agencies:

Herefordshire: Herefordshire Council - Highways: 01432 261 800

Shropshire: Shropshire Council: 0345 678 9006

Telford & Wrekin: Telford & Wrekin Council: 01952 384 000 or 01952 384 384 (during office hours)

Worcestershire: Worcestershire Hub: 01905 765765

Warwickshire: Warwickshire County Council: 01926 412 515

Hedge and tree cutting

Each landowner is responsible for foliage growth that overhangs the highway.  Trees or hedges that are left uncut can interfere with traffic and also obscure signs.  Visibility can also be reduced at junctions and bends.  Generally you must not cut or trim any hedges between 1st March - 31st July so as not to interfere with the main breeding season for birds.  Any works that are undertaken should be undertaken safely and in accordance with the Traffic Signs Manual which outlines the correct warning signs that must be used.  Signs should be placed well in advance of the work and must be visible for all road users.

Agricultural machinery                 

As with other vehicles on the public highway all tractors and equipment should always be in a good state of repair and in a roadworthy condition.  Each tractor or equipment must have the proper lighting to be driven on a public road and should be used in dusk or in times of poor visibility.  When towing, make sure that the towing eye on the trailer is not excessively worn and that the tractor hitch lock is locked into place.

Drivers of slow moving vehicles should always be aware of the build up of traffic behind them and when convenient and safe, pull over to allow traffic to pass. This avoids motorists taking unnecessary risks. Drivers of these vehicles are also reminded that weight limits on roads also apply to agricultural vehicles not just goods vehicles.

Any operators of agricultural vehicles should be skilled and familiar with their vehicle and as with all other motor vehicles it is a criminal offence to be using a mobile phone when behind the wheel of an agricultural vehicle.

Caution mud on road
 
Advice to motorists:

Anyone using the rural road network in Warwickshire or West Mercia should appreciate that we do live in a rural area and as such this means sharing the highway with numerous types of agricultural vehicles.  It's important, especially towards the end of the summer at harvest time, that motorists are aware of the dangers that may be present as farmers use the roads more.  Extra care and patience should be taken during this time of year to reduce risk by not making dangerous manoeuvres.