Farmers reminded to avoid leaving mud on roads this autumn

Farmers are being encouraged to have contingency plans in place so mud can be cleared from roads quickly
Farmers are being encouraged to have contingency plans in place so mud can be cleared from roads quickly

Farmers are being reminded to avoid leaving mud on the road as the autumn harvesting of sugar beet, maize and late-cut silage begins across the UK.

Mud deposited on roads by tractors can lead to farmers being prosecuted and held liable if other road users skid and have an accident.

The wetter autumn weather increases this risk of mud being left on roads, leading NFU Mutual to remind farmers to take precautions.

If mud is left on the roads, the law is clear - it is the responsibility of the farmer to clean it up, the rural insurer explained.

Evita van Gestel at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd said: “Autumn’s unpredictable weather makes harvesting and cultivation work a huge challenge for farmers.

“Having measures in place to prevent mud getting onto roads – and contingency plans so mud can be cleared from roads quickly - is the best approach."

For large-scale activities such as sugar beet or maize harvesting, farmers could have a wheel washer by field entrances and a mechanical road sweeper on stand-by.

And for smaller farms, a brush and shovel approach may be enough to clear up after one tractor.

"Clear warning signs should be put up to warn other road users - but that doesn’t mean the mud can be left," Evita van Gestel added.

"It’s still the farmer’s responsibility to remove it as quickly as possible.”

How can I avoid leaving mud on the road?

To help farmers reduce the risk of mud on road incidents through autumn harvesting and cultivation work, NFU Mutual has produced a checklist:

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

• Buy - or be prepared to hire in - equipment to clean up accidentally deposited mud

• Keep to your own farm roads and minor roads whenever possible

• Keep to low speeds especially when travelling short distances to help retain mud on the vehicle

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

• If there is a danger of mud being accidentally deposited on roads, use 'Slippery Road' signs with a 'Mud on Road' sub plate to alert other road users

• Make sure signs are positioned to give maximum visibility and warning to other road users, especially on approaches to sharp corners and blind summits

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

• You must assess the risks to working on the road in each location to make sure that the work can be done safely

• Ensure that staff and equipment are available and suitable for the soil and weather conditions present

• If staff are working on the road, additional “Men at Work” signs should be used in each direction

• If a contractor is used, ensure that prior agreement is reached on who is responsible for mud on road issues including use of signage and clean-up