Road accidents involving farm machinery increase by about 60% at harvest time, new figures show.

As harvest gets under way, rural insurer NFU Mutual is urging motorists to take care on rural roads and resist overtaking farm vehicles to avoid accidents.

Rural roads are generally three times more dangerous than urban roads, according to research by Roadsafe.com

But this risk is increased further during harvest time when tractors are more active on roads and often travelling at lower speeds, turning in and out of fields.

See also Harvest 2014 rumbles into gear

Last year, NFU Mutual dealt with 1,200 claims from July to September relating to road accidents involving farm machinery.

The most common type of accident involves a tractor or tractor and trailer turning right across a road into a field and colliding with a car or van driver who is overtaking a line of traffic in front.

NFU Mutual motor insurance specialist Victoria Walton said: “On average we see a 60% increase in third-party accidents involving tractors during harvest time compared to other months of the year.

“Accidents often occur when tractors slow down before turning right and impatient drivers try to overtake without realising the tractor is about to move across the road, or that another car is coming towards them.

“Our claims data reveals that one-third of serious accidents involved one party turning right.”

Six tips to prevent road accidents during harvest

  • Ensure tractor lights and flashing beacons are switched on and working
  • Place indicator lights on top of tractor cab and trailer tailgate
  • Clean residue off lights and check daily
  • Make sure drivers, especially casuals, are aware of road risks
  • Ensure tractor’s mirrors are correctly set up and clean
  • Consider putting a sign on roadside verge 200 yards before field – “Caution tractors turning right”

Source: Farmers & Mercantile insurance brokers

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