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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020
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Won't somebody please think of the farmers?

Mayo County Council has a special appeal for road users – to give farmers room to go about their job at this busy agricultural season.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

MOTORISTS HAVE BEEN asked to pause for thought the next time they get stuck behind a tractor – and think of it as the farmers’ work place.

Mayo County Council has urged the motoring public to bear in mind that spring is a very busy time in the agricultural industry. The spreading of fertiliser and other season-sensitive tasks requires farmer to spend time on the road. The Road Safety Office of the council is urging patience and vigilance for these large and sometimes slow-moving vehicles, saying: “We need to give them a break and exercise some tolerance so they can move their machinery from field to field”. The office said:

The road safety campaign is also reminding people that a farm vehicle is part of a farmer’s workplace. They want drivers to be respectful in allowing farmers to do their job.

Drivers’ anxiety levels skyrocket when they get behind a tractor or combine. But keep in mind that equipment is likely not going too far, and will not hold you up for more than a few minutes.

Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer for the council, said that there is a very serious point behind the appeal. “Country roads are unpredictable,” he said, “and, therefore, present far more challenges to drivers. Country crashes often result in greater numbers of fatalities and injuries because vehicles are usually travelling at higher speeds.”

Mayo County Council had this advice to offer on sharing rural roads with farmers’ vehicles:

  • Pass with care: Be observant of oncoming traffic and of other vehicles that may try to pass. Never pass when curves or hills block your view of oncoming vehicles, in a no-passing zone or within 100 feet of a juntion, railroad crossing or a bridge. Also be careful that the farmer is not pulling to the left to make a wide left right.
  • Be patient: Farmers are not operating equipment on rural roads to slow other drivers down intentionally; they are working to provide a safe food supply. Whenever possible, farmers will pull off the road to allow others to pass.
  • Slow down: Once you see agricultural vehicles, slow down immediately and be patient.
  • Remain visible: Don’t assume the farmer knows when you are driving near his vehicle. Although most farmers check behind them whenever possible, they are concentrating on keeping their equipment on the road and avoiding oncoming traffic. Before you pass, use your car’s horn to let the driver know where you are and not in an aggressive manner. Farmers may not be able to hear you over their equipment noise.
  • Yield to wide vehicles: Sometimes farm equipment is wider than travel lanes. If you approach wide equipment and cannot pass safely, stop. Watch for escort cars, which help to indicate an oversized vehicle. If you see one, pull off so the vehicle can pass you.

This table (compiled by Mayo County Council’s Road Safety Office) shows a higher percentage of collisions on a national level happen on roads in rural areas rather than in urban areas:

The Rules of the Road outline safety procedures for tractors and state that they should keep to the left as much as possible “to let faster traffic pass”.

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