Road users were yesterday urged to take extra care as farm traffic is set to increase with the start of the busy silage-cutting season.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) issued the joint appeal to raise awareness of the need for those who use the roads to use common sense and be considerate at all times.
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said this is a busy time for farmers. The number of tractors and trailers using the roads will increase dramatically over the next few weeks.
As a result, the risk of a collision involving a road user and farm machinery will increase.
“All drivers need to be on the lookout for tractors, trailers, and other farm machinery exiting from fields and farm yards.
"If you are travelling behind farm machinery, please be patient and only overtake when it’s safe to do so,” she said.
Ms Murdock also urged farmers to ensure that the drivers they use are competent and do not carry a passenger unless the tractor is equipped to carry one.
“Your driving mirror must provide an adequate view of the road to the rear and all agricultural vehicles must have proper working brakes on both tractor and trailer units. They must be fitted with lights, reflectors, and indicators.
“Don’t load the trailer in such a way that it would make it unstable on the road, and beware of low bridges, overhanging trees, overhead cables, and uneven road surfaces which could cause the load to shift and possibly overturn,” she advised.
IFA president Joe Healy urged farmers to be safety conscious whenever bringing a farm vehicle onto the public road.
“Farmers should be aware of traffic building up behind them and keep left where possible to allow other vehicles pass safely.
“I would appeal to other road users to show patience when encountering farm machinery on the road. With understanding on both sides, the roads can be safer for everybody,” he said.
Meanwhile, all agricultural vehicles being used on public roads must comply with new standards which came into force on January 1. These apply to braking, lighting, and visibility, weights, dimensions and coupling, plating and speed rating.
The previous regulations were over 50 years in place. They did not reflect the bigger, faster, and more powerful vehicles now being used by farmers and contractors.
Those found to be in breach of the regulations could face court fines of up to €2,500, a prison sentence or both. A series of videos outlining the changes was produced by the RSA in association with the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association.
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