Farmers reminded of legal obligation to keep roads mud-free

When field conditions turn wet the result can be hazardous to both agricultural vehicles and other road users
When field conditions turn wet the result can be hazardous to both agricultural vehicles and other road users

A police force is reminding farmers and contractors of their legal obligation to clean up roads if their vehicles have deposited mud.

Wiltshire Police says it has received reports from drivers about dangerous conditions being created by mud and other deposits.

The issue is not an uncommon problem at this time of year given the weather conditions and ongoing agricultural work.

However, the force says that farmers may well be bringing significant amounts of soil from the fields and onto the road network whilst going about their normal business.

Farmers and contractors are legally obliged to clean up any deposits left on the road.

There is also a legal requirement to place out signs compliant with the Traffic Signs Regulation 2016 to warn motorists of the conditions on the road.

If they don't, they could be liable for a number of offences under the Highways Act 1980 and the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Wiltshire Police said in a statement: “It is vital for farmers and contractors to know their responsibilities when it comes to leaving mud, and other deposits, on the road and particularly the consequences of not conforming to the law.

“Cleaning mud off of agricultural vehicles prior to going onto a public highway should be done whenever possible to help keep the roads safe.

“Although cleaning mud off agricultural machinery is inconvenient, it may not be a defence in law.”

The force has given farmers some helpful tips:

• Use your own farm roads and minor roads whenever possible

• Keep to low-speeds to help retain mud on the vehicle, especially when only travelling a short distance

• Be prepared to keep a written record of your decisions on whether or not to deploy signs and/or to clean the road

• Do everything possible to prevent mud being deposited on the road. This includes cleaning mud from vehicles as much as possible before they are taken onto the road

• The fact that cleaning mud off tractors and attachments is commercially inconvenient may not be a defence in law

• Use authorised signs - not hand painted signs. The recommended signs are: The 'Slippery Road' triangle with 'Mud on Road' sub plate and, if appropriate, the 'Men at Work' sign should be used. Signs must be at least 750mm

• Make sure signs are positioned to give maximum visibility and warning to other road users

• Clean the road as necessary during the working day and always at the end of the working day