OPERATORS of farming and construction vehicles are being urged not to leave roads covered in mud this winter because of the serious hazard it can cause.

North Yorkshire County Council has received reports of muddy roads and are reminding operators that they could be liable for a range of offences.

A number of powers are available to the police and the highway authority, mainly under the Highways Act 1980 and the Road Traffic Act 1988. Farmers or construction vehicle operators must:

  • Keep to low speeds and prevent mud from being deposited by removing any excess before driving on to roads;
  • Keep to their own farm roads whenever possible;
  • Be prepared to hire equipment to promptly remove deposits;
  • Use authorised signs prominently positioned for road users to see;
  • Clean the road as necessary during the working day and always at the end;
  • Ensure that equipment and labour is available and is suitable for the soil and weather conditions;
  • When using a contractor ensure agreement is reached beforehand on who is responsible for mud on the road and that suitable public liability insurance is in place.

The Highways Act 1980 says: “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.”

The Road Traffic Act 1988 covers a vehicle being driven dangerously on a road. Driving dangerously can include using a vehicle in a state that could cause danger to others. Punishment for these offences ranges from fines to imprisonment.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for highways, said: “Civil action can be taken where mud results in personal injury, damage to property, loss or inconvenience. It can constitute a public nuisance and loss or injury can result in a claim for negligence.

“The county council, as the highways authority, has a duty to protect the rights of road users. Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives the highway authority the power to clean the road and recover the cost from the person causing the obstruction.’’

To report mud on the road, go to northyorks.gov.uk/potholes-and-road-condition-issues, email Area1.Richmond@northyorks.gov.uk; Area2.Thirsk@northyorks.gov.uk; Area3.Whitby@northyorks.gov.uk; Area4.KirbyMisperton@northyorks.gov.uk; Area5.Skipton@northyorks.gov.uk; Area6.Boroughbridge@northyorks.gov.uk; Area7.Selby@northyorks.gov.uk or phone 01609 780780.