Farmer spotted illegally driving tractor on M6 in Preston

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A farmer has risked the wrath of traffic officers after illegally driving his tractor at speeds of around 40 mph on the M6 near Preston.


The slow-moving tractor was spotted lurching along the northbound M6, near junction 31 in Preston, during the morning's rush hour (Monday, March 11).

The tractor was travelling at around 40mph on the M6 northbound near junction 31 (Preston, Longridge) on Monday, March 11.

The tractor was travelling at around 40mph on the M6 northbound near junction 31 (Preston, Longridge) on Monday, March 11.

The John Deere tractor struggled to reach speeds of more than 40mph, forcing frustrated motorists to overtake it.

Tractors are among a number of vehicles and modes of transport banned from Britain's motorways.

It is not known whether the farmer was stopped by police.

What are the rules? And are tractors ever allowed on the motorway?

Rule 253 of the Highway Code prohibits certain slow-moving vehicles and agricultural vehicles from using the motorway.

According to the Highway Code: "Motorways MUST NOT be used by pedestrians, holders of provisional motorcycle or car licences, riders of motorcycles under 50cc, cyclists, horse riders, certain slow-moving vehicles and those carrying oversized loads (except by special permission), agricultural vehicles, and powered wheelchairs/powered mobility scooters."

Which vehicles are banned from Britain's motorways?

Prohibited vehicles include:

- Pedestrians

- Motorcycle or cars driven by holders of provisional licences

- Motorcycles under 50cc

- Cyclists

- Horse riders

- Slow-moving vehicles and those carrying oversized loads (except by special permission)

- Agricultural vehicles, including tractors

- Powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters

What about dual carriageways and other roads?

Some people might be forgiven for thinking tractors are allowed on the UK's motorways, since they are legal on similarly speedy dual carriageways.

In fact, speed limits for tractors was increased in 2017 from 20mph to 25mph. The change in the law also increased the maximum load that they are allowed to carry, from 24.39 tonnes to 31 tonnes.

The change in law was introduced in a bid to limit the amount of time that tractors have to be on the road, allowing them to make fewer journeys and reduce the risk of accidents.

What do farmers think?

The National Farmers Union (NFU) said some journeys on dual carriageways cannot be avoided and road users should remain patient when travelling behind agricultural vehicles.

But NFU Transport adviser, Tom Price, said farmers should use "common-sense" and pull in to allow queuing traffic to overtake if circumstances permit.

He said: "The point for farmers to note is to pull in only when it is safe to do so.

"There could well be circumstances when it is not safe to use a lay-by, for example, if it is too small for the vehicle concerned.

"The presence of a lay-by does not automatically mean it has to be used."

If there is a significant tailback of traffic and a farmer fails to pull over to allow vehicles to pass, they could be deemed as causing an obstruction on a public highway.

What the AA say about tractors on busy roads

The AA has urged drivers to be patient and remain cautious while driving behind tractors and agricultural vehicles, especially in the countryside.

A spokesman said: "They need to bear in mind that when they drive into rural areas they are going to come up against tractors and other agricultural traffic as they are part of the landscape.

"Tractor drivers know the local roads like the back of their hands and they will pull over when it is safe to do so.

"If they do not pull over there is a good chance that it probably is not safe."