As silage outfits rolled out around the country in recent weeks, public roads have become busier with large farm machinery. With increased road traffic, both farmers and public road users have a responsibility to drive with caution and adhere to the rules of the road.
The Farm Safety Action Plan (2021 – 2024) by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) stated that over half of all farm deaths involve farm tractors, vehicles, and other farm machinery (2016 – 2020). Further analysis of the fatalities involving tractors and other vehicle use indicates that 44% of these deaths resulted from persons being struck by a moving vehicle. And 30% died as a result of a collision.
Responsilities of the public road user
Drivers, cyclists, or walkers on public roads need to be aware that more agricultural machines will be on the roads for the coming months. Allow for extra time on journeys and remain vigilant for wide or large loads.
If stuck behind a tractor or large vehicle, be patient. Do not attempt to over-take where it is not safe to do so. Remember to keep at a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Be aware that you may be in their blind spot.
At this time of year be mindful that tractors and farm machinery may be entering and leaving fields and farmyards, some with concealed entrances. In order to make it through gaps drivers may need some extra space. Keep yourself and other road users safe by staying at safe distance behind. Adhere to the speed limits and use warning or hazard lights for signalling if necessary.
Responsibilities of the large macherinery driver
Drivers of agricultural vehicles also have to adhere to traffic laws and safety regulations. Firstly, is it important that all vehicles and machines are road worthy. Ensure they are fitted with working lights, indicators, reflectors, mirrors etc. It is also important to ensure that agricultural machinery is kept clean. Do not bring dirt and stones onto the roadway.
Farmers should not overfill when transporting grass, meal or grain in large trailers. Spillage on a road would be a safety risk. Look out for branches, overhangs from trees, or low cables. They could cause the load to be knocked out of a trailer.
Drivers of agricultural machinery should review their route in advance of travelling. Particularly watch out for low bridges or very narrow/uneven roads that could cause a load to get stuck, shift or over-turn. For large agricultural vehicles, drivers should consider using an escort vehicle. This is to alert other road users that a large vehicle is coming.
For farmers and contractors, do not let inexperienced machinery users on roads. Training, practice, and safety guidelines must all be undertaken before the job is started.
Lastly, for all road users, do not use a mobile phone while driving. Keep any distractions out of reach and focus on the road at all times.
FRS are currently hiring farm staff. Find out more by calling 0818 890 890 or visit frsfarmreliefservices.ie/careers for current vacancies and to apply online.