NFU Mutual has urged the public to take extra care over the coming months as agricultural traffic increase due to the start of this year's harvest.

The rural insurer said that all rural road users should 'respect' farmers doing their job and 'recognise' the hazards unique to countryside roads.

The next few months will see higher volumes of agricultural traffic, including many tractors pulling heavy silage and grain trailers or wide agricultural machinery.

With the unseasonably wet weather continuing throughout March and April, NFU Mutual said it was concerned that a rush to complete tasks could lead to an increase in incidents involving farm vehicles.

Its latest claims data shows that collisions between farm vehicles and third parties were 61% more likely to occur between the start of May and the end of September 2023 than in any other months.

South West Farmer:

On average, there were 447 of these accidents per month during the silage cutting, hay making, and harvesting season – a rise of 6% on the same period in 2022 – compared to 276 per month between October and April.

According to an NFU Mutual survey, one in four people in the UK said they were concerned about navigating agricultural vehicles when using rural roads.

Rural road safety specialist at the insurer, Sara Western, is encouraging all road users to remain aware of tractors, trailers, and other agricultural machinery.

“Our claims data shows that, year after year, accidents involving these agricultural vehicles and third parties are significantly more likely in the harvesting season.

“Agricultural machinery is larger, wider and slower than other vehicles, which can tempt road users to overtake, but it’s vital to overtake only when it’s safe to do so.

"Many rural roads won’t have long open stretches, so farmers and contractors should remember to pull over, if possible, to allow built-up traffic to pass."

She added: “Where it isn’t possible to allow traffic to pass, motorists and cyclists should remember they are likely driving only a few miles or to the next field opening, so be patient, give agricultural vehicles room to turn and don’t drive too closely to them.

“Rural roads are not only the gateway to our countryside, they are also the arteries of our agricultural industry and support the harvesting that feeds the nation."