Mayo’s road safety officer has appealed to drivers to stay cool at the wheel if they find themselves trailing behind a slow moving tractor on a winding rural road.
Noel Gibbons, Mayo County Council, said motorists need to “give farmers a break” and not succumb to road rage as the level of agricultural machinery on the roads increases at this time of the year.
He said cars taking unnecessary risks to overtake on rural roads are a danger to themselves and other road traffic.
“Car drivers who are used to keeping up a steady 50 or 60 mph 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,” said Mr Gibbons.
“But motorists should recognise that farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads, as does any other motor vehicle,” he added.
Mr Gibbons said drivers should exercise caution when approaching tractors and farm implements to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
“A car travelling 55mph can close a 300-foot gap (the length of a football field ) and overtake a tractor moving at 15mph in about four seconds,” he said.
“If you do not begin to slow as soon as you see a farm vehicle, you might not have time to avoid a collision.”
Mr Gibbons said many farmers will often try to get out of the way when they can, but they need drivers to be patients and wait for equipment to find a place to pull over.
He added that even slowing down to 20mph for two miles would only delay a motorist some six minutes in their overall journey time, which is the equivalent to waiting for two traffic lights.
“Country roads are unpredictable and, therefore, present far more challenges to drivers,” he warned.
“Country crashes often result in greater numbers of fatalities and injuries because vehicles are usually travelling at higher speeds.
“Seventy per cent of fatal road collisions between 1996 to 2010 occurred on rural roads.”
Mr Gibbons also asked farmers to be mindful of busy morning and afternoon commuters.
“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.”