Motorists advised to be cautious as harvest is gathered in

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Bedfordshire motorists are being urged to drive with extra caution and patience on rural roads as harvest gets underway.

NFU East Anglia says increased numbers of farm machinery will be on the move in the coming weeks, as farmers work to bring in our food and prepare fields for next year’s crops.

Rural roads are hazardous throughout the year, accounting for about 70 per cent of serious injury accidents, but the harvest period can bring increased risks.

NFU East Anglia Regional Director Robert Sheasby said: “We’re asking all road users to take special care driving in the countryside, to reduce the risk of accidents during the busiest time in the farming calendar.

“By following sensible advice, such as rural insurer NFU Mutual’s road safety code, accidents can be prevented, inconvenience to motorists minimised, and farmers can have a successful, and safe, harvest.”

Mr Sheasby said one common scenario for accidents was when tractors were slowing down to turn right.

“Drivers following the tractor may try and overtake, just as the tractor is turning into a field or farmyard. It’s really important that drivers are alert to tractors signalling to turn,” he said.

NFU Mutual’s rural road safety code includes advice for both tractor drivers and drivers of other vehicles. It is designed to help reduce risks to themselves and other road users. The code says:

For cars, lorries and motorbikes:

 Be patient when driving behind tractors; they rarely travel long distances on the roads and will pull in when it is safe to let traffic pass

 Look carefully for oncoming and following vehicles before turning right

 Watch carefully for oncoming traffic before pulling out onto a major road

 Be prepared for tractors 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:

 Make sure the road is clear ahead and behind before turning right - in particular look behind to check that no vehicle is trying to overtake

 Watch 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

 Pull over when you can do safely to let following vehicles pass

 Check that trailers and mounted implements are well lit at night

The NFU has also produced a Farm Vehicle Health Check so farmers can ensure their vehicles are roadworthy. It is available on the NFU website at http://bit.ly/1nf2hoJ