Almost one quarter of people, and just under one third of those living in the countryside, are concerned about the condition of rural roads, according to new research by rural insurer NFU Mutual.

The findings indicate that many people view the quality of rural roads as a barrier to country living.

These concerns come at a time when the UK is in the midst of harvest season, seeing an influx of agricultural traffic on the roads throughout the summer months.

This includes tractors pulling heavy silage and grain trailers, as well as wide agricultural machinery.

Data from NFU Mutual shows that collisions between agricultural vehicles and third parties are significantly more likely between May and September than in any other months.

On average, there were 423 accidents per month involving agricultural vehicles during the summer harvest season, compared to 249 per month from October to April.

The increase in agricultural traffic also coincides with the school holidays and a higher volume of leisure traffic during the summer months.

Many road users may not be familiar with rural roads, creating further risks for accidents.

Andrew Chalk, rural road safety specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Rural roads come with unique hazards, including narrow lanes, fewer road markings and often less well-maintained surfaces. NFU Mutual’s new research shows that a significant number of people are uncomfortable on rural roads, and sadly this is only more acute as agricultural machinery traffic increases in summer.

“Our claims data shows that accidents involving these agricultural vehicles and third parties are over 50 per cent more likely in the harvesting season, so it’s more important than ever that road users are patient and considerate for their fellow road users.

“Agricultural vehicles are generally large, wide and slow, which can tempt road users to overtake, but it’s vital that you remain patient and only overtake when it’s safe to do so – when you can see a clear road ahead, there a no field openings, and you have space to pass. With narrow rural roads, you may need to wait for a suitable opportunity.

“Farmers and contractors cannot drive too quickly, but they will generally either be going a short distance to an adjacent field or will – and should – pull over to allow built-up traffic to pass. Motorists and cyclists should be patient, give agricultural vehicles room to turn and not drive too closely to them, which can be dangerous and can obstruct your view before overtaking.

“It’s important to remember that rural roads are vital arteries for our agricultural industry, allowing farmers to bring in the harvest which helps feed the population, as well as valued spaces which allow us to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

“Mutual respect from those who use rural roads for work and for pleasure will ultimately help keep our motorists, cyclists, horse riders and walkers safe this harvest season.”