02 July 1997
Rural Road Safety is a Two-way Street But Precautions Will Pay
Road safety is no accident. But tragically accidents involving farm vehicles seem to be increasing.
In an attempt to halt the carnage, researchers, commissioned by the Department of Transport, analysed the types of accidents and their causes. They had their work cut out.
More than 1000 people are killed or injured in farm vehicle accidents on the road each year in up to 800 incidents, according to their report, Tractor accidents on rural roads.
Each year more than 5000 working days are lost and the cost, in purely financial terms, exceeds 60m. Far more important are the needless deaths, appalling injuries and untold human misery that follows a seconds lack of concentration.
So, the NFU is right to underline the importance of maintaining farm vehicles correctly and operating them properly on public roads. Its Country Road Code offers guidelines that will help not only to avoid accidents but also to improve farmings image in the eyes of other road users.
Pull in to avoid queues building up behind you. Make sure your vehicles are roadworthy and check the brake lights and steering before taking them on the public highway. Sounds obvious advice? But it is surprising the number of accidents such basic precautions could have eliminated.
But, as deputy NFU president Tony Pexton rightly points out, road safety on country roads is a two-way street. Motorists and lorry drivers, too, should treat farm vehicles with caution and respect rather than their usual attitude of disdainful indifference.
How often have you reeled in disbelief as a family car, often adorned with a sticker, Caution – baby on board, careers past on a blind bend, regardless of the risks? And how many times have you pulled off the road to allow vehicles to pass only to be stranded for half an hour watching a seemingly ceaseless stream of traffic prevent you from pulling out again?
When it comes to following the signs to road safety, a little patience goes a long way.