In 2017, 55,876 people were killed or injured while travelling on country roads.
Just stop and read that line again…
In an industry with the poorest safety record of any occupation, travelling on public roads can pose just as many risks as working on farmland. Latest figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) this week show the majority (60%) of fatal crashes in Britain still occur on rural roads.
To support Road Safety Week 2018 (19 – 25 November) our guest blogger is Dave Nichols, community engagement manager at Brake, the road safety charity. He explains that when it comes to road safety, the farming community is often fully aware of its importance to prevent needless deaths and injuries.
Transporting machinery and produce from one field to another via public roads is a necessity for most farmers. Whether it involves moving produce during harvest season or relocating heavy equipment, the only way to do this is often by road. However, due to the size and slow-moving nature of most farm vehicles, this can be hazardous.
Increasingly with the advent of MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) the group of road users most at risk from agricultural vehicles are cyclists – both pedal and motorised. Anyone travelling on two wheels is vulnerable on rural roads where speed limits are often greater and there are a mix of people using them.
The number of people taking to bicycles each year is increasing at a rapid pace. Delivering safe journeys for cyclists is a win/win, encouraging more people to cycle rather than drive, and keeping those who already do so safe.
Motorcyclists are disproportionately involved in crashes and the resulting injuries are often severe.
The speeds motorcycles can travel are equal to those of cars and yet motorcycle riders do not have equal protection in the event of a crash, such as air bags or side-impact bars, exposing them to the full force of impact.
All road users must take responsibility for ensuring their own and each other’s safety. There is a massive responsibility for those in charge of larger agricultural vehicles to be aware and demonstrate safe driving behaviours.
Most farmers who drive agricultural vehicles already help by clearing up mud dropped on public roads, and allow traffic to pass to avoid tailbacks. They keep amber warning beacons and lights clean and in good working order to make sure other road users, especially motorbikes, can see them and their intended movements.
But it is important to be aware of all types of road behaviour. Staying alert, aware and safe when driving agricultural vehicles such as tractors, combines and even ATVs is one thing but what happens when your workers are commuting to and from the farm?
It is just as important that they are aware of simple measures to protect themselves and other road users whether on two wheels, four wheels or four legs. This includes slowing down and sticking well within speed limits on rural roads, taking longer at junctions to look for bikes, horseriders and other road users.
For more information on Road Safety, please visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk
About the author
Dave Nichols is community engagement manager at Brake, the road safety charity. Brake was founded in 1995 and exists to stop the needless deaths, serious injuries and pollution occurring on our roads every day. We work to make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake’s vision is a world where there are zero road deaths and injuries, and people can get around in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. Road Safety Week is the UK’s flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2018 takes place 19-25 November, sponsored by Devitt Insurance Services and Ford, with support from the Department for Transport.