Insurance firms highlight the dangers of muddy roads

Rural insurer Cornish Mutual and South West legal firm Ashfords LLP warn of the dangers of mud being left on public roads, suggest practical preventative measures for landowners.

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Rural insurer Cornish Mutual and South West legal firm Ashfords LLP have reminded farmers in the region of the hazards of leaving mud on roads.

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Serious accidents can be caused by vehicles slipping or skidding on muddy roads, which in rural areas are often a consequence of farm vehicles or animals depositing mud during transit. Additionally, flooding resulting from blocked ditches can also lead mud and debris onto roads.

Hoping to reduce the number of accidents this causes, Cornish Mutual cite the legal obligations landowners are under to clean up any farm mess. Depositing mud on the roads is an offence under the Highways Act 1980, and there are similar provisions in the Water Resources Act and the law of public nuisance.

Indeed a landowner can even be responsible when their own vehicles have not spread the mud; if it came off their land – for instance, via a contractor spreading muck or a visiting milk tanker – and they could have either prevented it happening or cleared it up, it can be the landowners responsibility. Appropriate Public Liability insurance cover is therefore a must.

Flora Wood, Partner and Head of Ashfords’ Personal Injury Team, explains the incentive in adopting a clear policy to avoid the spread of mud. “Often accidents happen without any witnesses and landowners become aware of a claim many months later. By then it is difficult to prove the mud was not excessive or did not come from their land.”

Cornish Mutual Inspector Dave Bersey suggests two-fold action. “Use signage if you can to make sure other motorists are aware that there may be mud on the road and always clean mud off the highway at reasonable intervals and at the end of the day.”

A range of preventative measures can be taken to reduce the spread of mud including installing good drainage systems, putting down hard core or chippings near entrances to the road, hosing down tractor tyres prior to going onto roads and driving at lower speeds.

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For more information visit www.cornishmutual.co.uk or www.ashfords.co.uk.