A young farmer has been fined after driving a tractor while using his mobile phone in Cumbria.
Cumbria Police said the unnamed farmer was seen chatting away on his mobile phone while towing a Krone Swadro TC760 rotor rake.
He was fined £200 and received six penalty points on his licence.
NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts has since raised concern over farmers using their phones while driving in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
He wrote on Twitter: “All I want to do is stand up for farmers. But again over the weekend I saw two separate occasions with farmers on their mobile phones driving along the main road in our town. Which bit of ‘It’s dangerous, it’s illegal, It’s irresponsible’ do some of our colleagues not understand.”
— Cumbria Roads Police (@CumbriaRoadsPol) May 27, 2020
It is illegal to use a mobile handheld phone when driving on the road, including while stopped in traffic or at traffic lights.
The penalty is a minimum of six points and £200 spot fine. But culprits can be fined much more and disqualified from driving if the case goes to court.
The consequences are likely to be far more serious still if a driver is involved in a road accident while using a mobile phone.
It is legal to use hands-free phones, sat-navs and two-way radios when driving. But a driver can still be stopped and penalised if police think they are distracted and not in full control of their vehicle.
The busy silaging season and harvest – when tractors and trailers do a lot of roadwork – often sees a spike in offences involving mobile phones.
Police in Dumfries and Galloway have launched a four-week road safety action plan targeting drivers of agricultural vehicles.
Tractor drivers were warned about using mobile phones while driving following complaints from members of the public. Police Scotland said concerns had also been raised by the community about tractor drivers exceeding the speed limit.