Road users are being reminded to be patient and take extra care on rural roads as the harvest period continues.
With more heavy agricultural machinery on the move as crops are harvested and fields prepared, drivers and motorcyclists are asked to stay a safe distance behind vehicles, watch carefully for signals, and take extra care if overtaking.
Farmers and agricultural workers are also being reminded to signal all manoeuvres clearly and well in advance, to use signal and beacon lights, and to look carefully for other road users when pulling out and especially when turning right.
Drivers moving large or slow agricultural machinery on the road should follow the Highway Code’s rule 169: ‘Do not hold up a long queue of traffic, especially if you are driving a large or slow-moving vehicle. Check your mirrors frequently, and if necessary, pull in where it is safe and let traffic pass.’
PC Chloe Gillies, of the Northamptonshire Police Rural Crime Team, said: “Rural roads pose their own hazards throughout the year, and especially during the busy harvest period.
“Tractors and other farm vehicles are large and subject to reduced speed limits. Misjudging an attempt to overtake can have serious, if not fatal, consequences, so we’re asking everyone to be patient with other road users and follow our advice to help keep everyone safer.”
Harvest road safety advice for cars, lorries and motorbikes:
- Be patient when travelling behind tractors and agricultural machinery. They rarely go long distances on the roads and will pull in when it’s safe to let traffic pass
- Look carefully for oncoming traffic and following vehicles before turning right
- Watch carefully for oncoming traffic before pulling out onto a major road
- Keep a safe distance behind agricultural vehicles. Be prepared for them to turn right into fields and farmyards
- Remember that when turning right a tractor with a trailer will often pull over to the left first in order to negotiate the turn
- Check rear view mirrors before trying to overtake
- Indicate clearly before pulling out to overtake
For tractors and agricultural machinery:
- Ensure machinery, tractors and trailers are roadworthy. In particular, make sure trailer brakes are adjusted and working correctly and efficiently
- Many collisions happen when tractors and trailers turn right. Make sure all indicators are working and can clearly be seen
- Make sure the road is clear ahead and behind before turning right - in particular look behind to check no-one is trying to overtake
- Look carefully for oncoming traffic before pulling out onto a major road
- Signal clearly well in advance of slowing down or moving to the right
- Make sure tractor and towed implement lights are working
- Make sure amber flashing beacons are switched on while travelling on public roads
- Make sure cab glass, mirrors and lights are clean and free from obstructions
- If in a large or slow-moving vehicle, pull over when you can do so safely to let following vehicles pass
- If working at night, make sure lights are fully functioning. Check that trailers and mounted implements are well lit at night
- Observe the speed limit for the size/weight of your vehicle. Tractors pulling a single trailer with a combined train weight of 31t and no more than 2.55m wide are permitted to travel at 25mph. Vehicles 2.55m to 3.5m wide are limited to 20mph. Vehicles over 3.5m wide are limited to 12mph. As a general rule, vehicles wider than 3m must notify police of their journeys, and vehicles wider than 3.5m must also have attendants to escort the vehicle