With the fine weather we are experiencing at the moment, farmers are busy spreading slurry and Mayo County Council Road Safety Officer, Noel Gibbons, has appealed to road users to exercise "tolerance" if they are caught behind farm machinery in the coming weeks and to "give farmers a break".
Gibbons went on to say: "It’s one time of the rear that rural road rage peeps its head up. Car drivers who are used to keeping up a steady 80kph on country roads at other times of the year find their heart rates soaring and steam coming out of their ears as they stare at the rear end of a tractor - the tractor driver, (if he has a 50kph gearbox ) has a maximum speed of 50kph to play with.
"As farmers head to the fields to plant, farm-vehicle traffic increases on rural roads. The farming community encourage all drivers to exercise caution when approaching tractors and farm implements to ensure their safety and the safety of others. Motorists should recognize that farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads, as does any other motor vehicle.
"Farm equipment is so big and slow, how could you possibly hit a farm vehicle? Consider this: A car travelling 90kph can close a 300-foot gap (the length of a football field ) and overtake a tractor moving at 24 kph in about four seconds. If you do not begin to slow as soon as you see a farm vehicle, you might not have time to avoid a collision."
The keys to sharing the road with farming vehicles are caution and patience added Gibbons, saying: "Even if you have to slow down to 30 kph and follow a tractor for two miles, it only takes six minutes of your time, which is equivalent to waiting for two traffic lights.
“Country roads are unpredictable and therefore present far more challenges to drivers. Country crashes often result in greater numbers of fatalities and injuries because vehicles are usually travelling at higher speeds and 70 per cent of fatal road collisions between 1996 to 2010 occurred on rural roads."
Farmers are reminded to be cognizant of high traffic times, usually mornings and late afternoons. While it often is impossible to avoid operating on the roads during these times, it may be possible to limit road transportation and if there is a build up of traffic behind farm vehicles, pull in and let traffic pass where it is safe to do so.