The harvest havoc: Understanding the surge in rural collisions during harvest season

As September makes an appearance, the rural landscape changes as harvest season is well underway. Unfortunately, not everything is as picturesque and fanciful as it seems. Around this time of year, there is also a rise in collisions.

Tractors and farm machinery become familiar sights on roads in the countryside and make them more hazardous to travel on. So why are there more collisions and how can we keep road users safe?

Agricultural machinery on the move: Risks and challenges

As farmers pick up the pace to get harvesting completed before the winter, more agricultural vehicles can be spotted on the road.

Research from NFU Mutual has found that between May and September 2022 collisions between agricultural vehicles and other vehicles were 52% more likely to occur. As more of these vehicles are being utilised by farmers there is an increased likelihood that you will come across one moving between fields and farmyards on the smaller rural roads.

Due to the nature of these vehicles, they tend to be slow-moving despite the speed limits being higher. This can lead to accidents occurring when people attempt to overtake without being certain it is clear, potentially causing a surge in personal injury claims.  Usually, tractors will only be travelling short distances so being patient is your safest bet.

The impact of rural traffic congestion

The UK’s rural roads can be narrow with limited visibility, so adding a slow-moving vehicle into the mix can make it very unsafe to be speeding on these roads.

Not only can a tractor take up a whole road, but those roads are single lanes with only passing places so it can be easy to meet one head-on. If you are speeding or driving unsafely then you risk getting into a serious accident.

Visibility and safety

Farm workers work incredibly long hours meaning they often start early in the morning and finish as the light starts to dim. This means that the machinery and vehicles they use can be on the roads when visibility isn’t the best.

There is a further risk due to the size of the vehicles in question. Farm machinery tends to be large and wide to accommodate the parts it needs to function. This means that seeing past them to overtake can be difficult. If you do overtake without being certain it is safe, you may risk hitting another vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian.

Reduced visibility can cause collisions, whether it is due to darkness or adverse weather conditions, so you must drive with caution.

How can safety be improved?

If living in rural areas, education is a great way to ensure drivers are aware of the risks. By making part of driving lessons or lessons in school, instilling caution around farm vehicles will help to reduce collisions.

If you are visiting a rural area be mindful of where you park. Do not obstruct any field entrances or driveways. It is important to remember that some vehicles may be wider than a single lane so leave adequate room for them to get passed. This will prevent any accidents when you are parked.

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