Be Aware of the Dangers of Agricultural Vehicles Using Country Roads

9 September 2015

At this time of year, motorists should be aware of the dangers of agricultural vehicles using country roads.

Buswell v Symes and another, [2015] EWHC 1379 (QB),

The plaintiff and his friend, a Mr Godfrey, were travelling along a country road on motorbikes in single file, with the plaintiff travelling in front. Both were experienced riders. They overtook a tractor and a car at between 60-70 mph. As they approached the brow of a hill on a slight bend, slowed down  to 60 mphas there was no visibility over the brow of the hill. As they came over the brow of the hill they saw a large tractor and trailer pulling out from the left-hand side and was across the road, blocking the carriageways The tractor driver said that as he was turning out into the road he thought to himself that he hoped no bikes were coming along the road whilst he was turning. He said that he tried to get some speed up so that he could turn quicker but he could not get any speed up. A collision occurred.

 Mr Justice Supperstone  commented that the dangers associated with driving at speed over a blind summit were obvious. Both the Claimant and Mr Godfrey knew, or should have appreciated, the hazards. The judge did not accept Mr Godfrey's evidence that he was not taking a big risk. In his view he and the Claimant were running a very great risk of colliding with anything that may have been in the road over the hill.

As Jackson LJ observed in Hames v Ferguson and others [2008] EWCA Civ 1268 (at para 17) "When driving along country roads in the summer, it is not unusual to encounter slow-moving agricultural vehicles driving into or out of fields". (See also Arnott v Sprake and another [2001] EWCA Civ 341, per Kay LJ at paras 36 and 38; and Lambert v Jenny Natasha Clayton (Administratrix of the Estate of Paul Michael Clayton, Deceased) [2009] EWCA Civ 237, [2010] RTR 16, per Smith LJ at para 33).

The tractor driver was found 1/3rd to blame for the accident and the plaintiff 2/3rds.

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