Generally, May to September is the busiest time for farmers harvesting hay and arable crops, with more tractors and vehicles towing trailers on the road. As temperatures rise, data shows that collisions between these agricultural vehicles and third parties are 52 percent more likely in these months.
Because of this, experts are warning farmers, motorists and other road users to respect rural roads, helping everyone avoid unnecessary danger.
Following the pandemic, many drivers fell in love with the British countryside again, with staycations becoming increasingly popular.
While this can be massively beneficial for smaller towns and villages, it can cause issues with traffic, especially during harvest season.
The next few months will see higher volumes of agricultural vehicles, including tractors pulling silage and grain trailers, as well as combine harvesters.
On average, there were 423 accidents between agricultural vehicles and third parties per month during the harvest season, compared to less than 250 per month between October and April.
In addition to the agricultural vehicles, the summer months will see families going on holiday, with the school holidays bringing a further increase in traffic across the country.
Jade Devlin, rural and safety specialist at NFU Mutual, is encouraging rural communities and other drivers to remain aware of tractors, trailers and other people on the road.
She said: “Agricultural vehicles are generally large, wide and slow, which can tempt road users to overtake, but it’s vital that you remain patient and only overtake when it’s safe to do so – when you can see a clear road ahead, there are no field openings, and you have space to pass.
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“Farmers and contractors cannot drive too quickly, but they will generally either be going a short distance to an adjacent field or will – and should – pull over to allow built-up traffic to pass.
“Motorists and cyclists should be patient, give agricultural vehicles room to turn and not drive too closely to them, which can be dangerous and can obstruct your view before overtaking.
“It’s important to remember that rural roads are vital arteries for our agricultural industry, allowing farmers to bring in the harvest which helps feed the population, as well as valued spaces which allow us to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”
As with other instances on the road, all motorists need to have mutual respect for each other to ensure everyone stays safe.
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All road users should give plenty of space when overtaking other vehicles, especially vulnerable road users.
Walkers, runners, horse riders and cyclists should be given as much room as possible, with the Highway Code advising them to give a decent amount of space.
Motorists, as well as cyclists, are also being warned that speed limits are not targets, meaning they should always drive responsibly.
Rural roads are likely to have hazards such as tighter carriageways, blind corners, and animals around the roadside.
Parking is also a key consideration which is often overlooked by motorists, with it being vital for drivers to avoid stopping in front of field entrances or obstructing the road.
Inspector Jem Mountford from Warwickshire Police Roads Policing Unit said: “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility.
“With more people using country roads during the summer months, it is important we are all patient and show respect to other road users.
“If everyone does this, then we can reduce the number of collisions and injuries on these roads.”
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