Tractor Road Safety

Transporting agricultural machinery from one field to another via public roads is a necessity for most farmers. Whether it involves moving produce during harvest season or relocating heavy equipment from one field to another, the only way to do this is by road. However, due to their size and slow moving nature, this can be hazardous to both agricultural vehicles and other road users.

Each year, incidents involving tractors and other farm machinery occur on public roads which can cause costly equipment damage, injuries and deaths to all groups of road users. In the past year, a total of 23 people were injured in road collisions involving agricultural vehicles in Cheshire.

Statistics have shown the group of road users most at risk from agricultural vehicles to be motorcyclists. In the past year, five motorcyclists were involved in road collisions involving agricultural vehicles in Cheshire - two of them were killed and one was left seriously injured.

All motorists must take responsibility for ensuring their own and each other’s safety where agricultural vehicles are concerned.

Advice and the law

Mud on the road

  • Farmers are responsible for cleaning up mud dropped on public roads by their own vehicles and livestock
  • Mud can be a significant hazard to other motorists, particularly motorcyclists, and can result in serious, even fatal collisions.

Allowing traffic past when causing a tailback

  • It is inevitable that slow-moving vehicles will cause a tailback on public roads but it is important for the driver to pull over and allow traffic to pass at the earliest opportunity
  • Failure to do so can be frustrating for other motorists and can result in accidents if impatient road users attempt to overtake when it is not safe. They do this at their own risk.

Lights

  • Lights should be kept clean and in good working order to make sure that other road users can see the intended movements of the vehicles.

Amber warning beacon

  • Amber warning beacons can be fitted to tractors which are not capable of exceeding 25mph to alert other vehicles to the presence of a slow moving vehicle
  • Under certain circumstances it may be a legal requirement.

Collision scenarios

There are several common collision scenarios which involve agricultural vehicles.

Below is advice on how the driver of the agricultural vehicle can minimise the risk of being involved in collisions.

Head-on collision

While overtaking a tractor, the road user may face another vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. They do not have enough time to get out of the way, resulting in a collision.

This type of collision is likely to be the result of poor judgement from the overtaking motorist. The risk can be minimised by tractor drivers pulling over where safe to do so, to allow traffic tailbacks to pass.

Left-turn collision

The tractor begins to make a left turn at the same time that a road user attempts to overtake, resulting in a collision.

The tractor driver should ensure that all manoeuvres are clearly signalled.

Sideswipe collision

A road user is sideswiped by a tractor while attempting to overtake it. This may happen when a tractor is towing equipment which is extra wide or especially long.

Reflective tape and materials should be used to mark the extreme front points of the equipment.

Rear-end collision

The road user does not see the tractor in time or misjudges its speed and collides with the rear end of the vehicle.

If the tractor is incapable of exceeding 25mph, the driver may use an amber beacon to ensure they are clearly visible to other motorists. Additionally, they should clearly indicate when they are slowing down by using brake lights.