Farm Vehicles and Mud on the Road - Farmers Must be Aware of the LawPublished on: 29 November 2012
Following a wet summer and difficult harvest we just need to be careful when driving. Of equal importance is the need for the farmers to know the law regarding mud on the road and to ensure users are safe.
Farmers and vehicle operators who deposit mud on the road maybe potentially liable for a range of offences under the Highways Act. Section 148 makes it an offence to deposit mud on the highway and interrupt the use of other road users. Section 149 gives the Highway Authority the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from the person causing the obstruction. Section 161 of the Highways Act makes it an offence for anyone to deposit anything whatsoever on the highway which will cause a user to be injured or endangered. A civil claim may also follow any personal injury, damage or loss as a result of mud on the road.
I would therefore urge farmers to ensure they keep their own farm roads and minor roads clear wherever possible, to keep to low speeds, particularly when travelling short distances to retain mud on the vehicle. A written record of decisions on whether or not to deploy signs and clean the roads, farm roads and other minor roads where available, check availability of hire equipment. Farmers must do everything possible to prevent mud deposited on the road, which includes cleaning vehicles before leaving fields. If there is a danger of mud being accidently deposited on the roads they must use slippery road signs with a mud on road sub-plate to alert other road users, check local highway authorities.
It is very important to clean the road in the working day and always at the end of a working day and ensure that labour and equipment is available and suitable for this task.
In particular, farmers should be aware that where a contractor is used they must enter into proper agreements to ensure who is responsible for the mud on the road, lineage and cleaning etc, to make sure public liability insurance is in place to safeguard against any such claims being brought.