With harvest season now underway, Gardaí in Donegal are appealing to all road users to be vigilant to the increased presence of agricultural vehicles on roads.
The alert comes ahead of a busy holiday weekend, when more traffic is expected on the road alongside more tractors and quads.
Donegal’s Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn is advising the farming community, farming contractors and all motorists to be vigilant to other road users sharing the road at this time of year: “Remember that with many on holidays and due to Covid-19 the roads are likely to have an increase in pedestrians and cyclists, particularly with current foreign travel restrictions in place.
“In light of the current situation, anyone driving farm machinery, in particular on rural roads, should reduce their speed and anticipate that a family or individuals from their neighborhood could be around the next bend either walking, jogging or cycling. That goes for all road users as we should all expect the unexpected,” Chief Supt McGinn said.
“I’d also like to remind those out walking or cycling to remain alert adhere to the Rules of the Road. This includes using a footpath/cycle lane where one is provided. Where there is no footpath you must walk as near as possible to the right-hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Pedestrians should ensure they are visible to other users, cyclists and vehicles, especially when walking in the early morning and late evening,” she continued.
All motorists are advised never to use a mobile phone while driving. Gardaí continue to enforce all road safety laws and those detected using a mobile phone while driving face a fine of €60 and three penalty points.
Drivers of agricultural vehicles, including quads, are not exempt from road traffic legislation and those operating them must hold and carry the appropriate licence for that vehicle whilst driving on public roads. Helmets should also be worn at all times when operating quads.
Agricultural vehicles are required to be taxed, insured and must be roadworthy, and have fully operational lights both in the front and rear. They are also liable to seizure in the same way that a car/van is liable to seizure for no driving licence, insurance, tax expired for two months or more, no test/NCT, unaccompanied drivers etc. if detected on public roads.
Regular safety checks are essential on all agricultural vehicles and An Garda Síochána is asking all owners to play their part in keeping everyone safe both on and off the road.
• Use the flashing amber beacon at all times in accordance with lighting and visibility laws
• Keep tractor windows and mirrors clean to allow an unobscured view
• Keep tractors in good serviceable and road worthy condition
• Keep steering systems and all brakes working correctly
• Apply the handbrake before leaving the cab, remove key from engine and dismount facing the tractor.
•Be mindful of overhead wires if operating tall machinery.
“Cyclists are regarded as vulnerable road users and motorists need to exercise care when encountering cyclists, alone or in groups,” Chief Supt McGinn said.
Cyclists are also reminded to adhere to the rules of the road, cycle no more than two abreast and as close to the left hand side of the road as possible. Suitable lighting must be used during lighting up hours and cyclists should ensure they wear appropriate reflective clothing during these periods.