The Safer Roads Partnership and West Mercia Police are reminding motorists of the dangers that may be present during this time of year as farmers are using the roads more when harvesting and moving their produce.
Agriculture is one of Shropshire’s major industries and harvesting a wide variety of crops at this time of the year sees an increase in agricultural vehicle movements on the road and also an increased potential for road collisions.
The Partnership is aware that in previous years a number of issues have been reported by the public to the police and councils with regard to the use of increased agricultural vehicle activity.
- A likelihood of increased mud and debris deposits on the road. Farmers and contractors have a duty to ensure that their vehicles are cleared of any mud or debris before entering onto the 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. This is an offence under the Highways Act and is a potential hazard to other road users.
- Drivers of agricultural vehicles are also being urged to consider other road users whilst they undertake their work and to pull into lay-bys or safe places to allow other vehicles to pass safely, avoiding traffic build up and prevent unsafe over taking manoeuvres. Failure to do so may lead to prosecution of the driver for careless or inconsiderate driving.
- Contractors and farmers are also reminded that the use of mobile phones when behind the wheel of an agricultural vehicle is a criminal offence and will be dealt with the same way as if in a car.
- Agricultural vehicle drivers have also been seen ignoring the county’s weight limits and the law applies to agricultural vehicles as well as heavy goods vehicles.
Vicki Bristow, Communications Manager at the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia, says:
"We appreciate that during this time of the year farmers have to increasingly use the regions roads to transport their crops around but if the points raised above are adhered to this will reduce the road safety concerns for all road users.
We would also like to remind motorists that it’s not just drivers of agricultural vehicles that need to be aware of the road safety implications. General motorists need to ensure that extra care and patience should be taken during this time of year and they should be aware that there is a necessity for more agricultural vehicles to be on the roads and not to chance risky manoeuvres.”
Any drivers of agricultural vehicles or anyone wishing to report any issues regarding debris or mud on the road can contact Shropshire Council on 0345 678 9006 or Telford & Wrekin Council on 01952 384 000 for advice.