Farmers forced to use their own tractors and trailers for harvest transport, due to the current shortage of lorry drivers, are been advised to regularly check brakes and hitch mechanisms.
The warning from the NFU Mutual comes as the nation faces disruption to road transport because of the driver shortage, which is affecting deliveries to supermarkets, hospitality, the construction trade and agriculture.
Advice includes making sure that tractors and trailers are correctly matched and maintenance schedules are in place, as well as regular breaks to avoid driver fatigue and carefully chosen routes, to avoid congested roads where possible.
NFU Mutual also supports the Tilly Your Trailer initiative, which enables farmers to have their trailers inspected and get a Tilly Pass to confirm that trailers are safe for road use and comply with legislation.
Gwyn Barlow of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd said: “Harvest is the toughest time of the year for arable farmers – and this year the nationwide shortage of lorry drivers is adding to the pressures.
“Travelling across rough fields and through muddy gateways takes its toll on farm machinery so we are advising farmers to regularly check that brakes are working correctly, lights and indicators can be seen, and windows and mirrors are clean.
“We’re also asking the public to be patient when driving behind tractors for a few minutes and appreciate the need to get the harvest in to feed the nation.”
Tractor and trailer road safety checklist:
- Make sure tractors and trailers are maintained according to the manufacturer’s schedules, and that records are kept;
- Check that insurance policies cover additional transport work;
- Ensure that tractor and trailer lights are working correctly and are clean;
- Ensure that windows and mirrors are clean;
- Regularly check trailer hitch eyes for wear;
- Make sure that flashing orange beacons are fitted and used where required;
- Keep trailer loads within the manufacturer’s capacity rating;
- Pull in when safe to do so to allow traffic to overtake;
- Drivers should be aware of impatient following drivers attempting to overtake when tractors slow down to turn right into fields and farm tracks;
- Plan routes to avoid congested roads and peak traffic where possible;
- Make sure tractors are matched to trailer weights and have compatible braking systems;
- Comply with laws governing tractor and trailer weights, distances travelled, axle combinations, braking systems and speed limits;
- Provide training with on-farm equipment and maintenance schedules;
- Make sure seatbelts are in good condition and used by the driver;
- Make sure drivers take regular breaks;
- Instruct drivers not to use mobile phones when driving.