New data shows that almost half of accidents involving agricultural vehicles happen during May to September.

Claims data from rural insurer NFU Mutual shows that last year collisions between agricultural vehicles and third parties were 42 per cent more likely in this period of the year than in any other months.

On average, there were 456 of these accidents per month during the silage cutting, hay making, and harvesting season, compared to just 263 per month between October and April.

Higher volumes of agricultural traffic during this period, particularly tractors pulling heavy silage and grain trailers or wide agricultural machinery, brings a greater need for all road users to respect their fellow road users and the hazards common on country roads, says the insurer.

The increase in agricultural vehicles in the road coincides with the sunnier weather and school holidays to greatly increase the hazards on rural roads during this time.

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Gregor Belcher, a farming specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Silaging getting underway marks the start of the harvest season, during which time we expect to see more tractors, trailers and large agricultural machinery such as combine harvesters on the roads.

"These vehicles are large, wide and slow, often tempting other roads users to overtake on narrow roads – sometimes with disastrous results.

“Farmers and contractors cannot – and should not – drive too quickly when pulling a heavily-laden trailer so we urge motorists and cyclists to be patient to avoid driving too close and attempting risky overtakes on narrow or unsighted roads.

"In turn, farmers should pull over to allow built-up traffic to pass when it is safe to do so.

“Farmers will often be travelling only a short distance before turning into a field or side road, but a tractor pulling a long trailer can take some time and need more space to turn a corner.

"Rural road users, and particularly cyclists and motorcyclists, should be aware that the tractor may turn, and never attempt to overtake on the inside of a turning or field entrance.

“Ultimately, we urge anybody using rural roads to respect the vital function they serve to our farming industry.

"Bringing in the harvest is part of the lifeblood of UK farming and essential to feed the population.

"Most activity takes place when the sun is shining, which is likely to coincide with when people most want to visit and enjoy the countryside.

“By respecting fellow road users, we can all ensure that work and leisure can continue accident free harvest season.”