The wet summer and autumn, and the impending root crop harvests mean that there is likely to be an increased risk of high levels of mud getting onto the roads. As well as being illegal, excessive mud on the road has led to some serious and fatal accidents and it is essential that members take steps to minimise its impact.
Background – The Law
Farmers and vehicle operators who deposit mud on the road are potentially liable for a range of offences.
While there is a range of powers available to the police and highways department the primary powers fall under the Highways Act 1980.
Section 148 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to deposit mud etc. on the highway that would interrupt other users of the highway.
Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives the highways authority the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from the person causing the obstruction.
Section 161 Highways Act 1980 “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on a highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offence”.
Civil action may also be a possibility where the mud contributes to a personal injury, damage to property, or any loss or inconvenience. The presence of mud can constitute a public nuisance and loss or injury can result in a claim for negligence.
What you should do:
Be prepared to hire in equipment – check availability in advance
Keep to your own farm roads and minor roads whenever possible
Keep to low speeds – especially when travelling a short distance – 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.
What you must do:
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.
If there is a danger of mud being accidently deposited on roads, use ‘Slippery Road’ signs with a ‘Mud on Road’ sub plate to alert other road users. Check with your local highways authority their requirements for warning signs at the side of the road.
Clean the road as necessary during the working day and always at the end of the working day.
Ensure that labour and equipment is available and is suitable for the soil and weather conditions present.
Where a contractor is used, ensure that prior agreement is reached on who is responsible for mud on road issues (signage, cleaning etc) and ensure that adequate public liability insurance is in place.
Highways Act 1980 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66Road Traffic Regulation Act
Road Traffic Act 1988 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/contents
Highway Code http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_070304
Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU