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#1 Posted : 29 January 2001 13:32:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ian Harper
I have been approached to settle a dispute regarding slow moving tractors we have that use the public highway.
Recentley a tractor driver was stopped by the police and told that he had to pull over as more than six cars were behind him. Which he did so. Later the police came upon him again, (it was a long journey!) and again stopped him as he had more than six cars he was holding up.
The driver made the point that it may not always be possible to safely pull off the road, but is he legally obliged to? How many vehicles have to be held up before he pulls off? Can he pull off onto the path as the police instructed?
Should we turbo charge our tractors so they go quicker?
etc
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#2 Posted : 29 January 2001 14:31:00(UTC)
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Posted By Nigel
Are the police saying that you are obstructing the public highway? There have been instances where JCB drivers have been convicted of this as the police argue that they should not be on the road for other than short journeys, for longer ones they should be on tranporters which in theory should be able to travel faster. Maybe the police are saying be "responsible" and pull over when there are say 6 cars behind you to avoid them taking it any further.
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#3 Posted : 30 January 2001 11:45:00(UTC)
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Posted By Stuart Nagle
Not so much law here, in essence, as good sense and compliance with the 'highway code'.

Drivers of slow moving vehicles are required to pull over, as often as is reasonable and safe to do so, to enable other road users to pass and continue their duties unobstructed.

For information, there are two legal considerations at law here you should know;

1) The public Highway.

A public highway is defined as a way along which all persons have the right to pass and re-pass, except by obstructions that are either natural or legal.

2) Obstruction.

Obstruction of the public highway is an offence, defined by a Police Officer (in uniform), who given the circumstances may or may not decide that any obstruction to the public highway by persons or items deposited on the public highway is reasonable or not.

Obviously, in this particular case the Police are stating that they do not consider a slow moving vehicle, (in what may be a road where conditions enabling other vehicles to pass is difficult - you do not state this), is reasonable, and that the driver of the slow moving vehicle, whatever its type or configuration, must pull in/over often to avoid causing what the police consider to be an unreasonable onstruction of the legal right to pass and re-pass along the highway. Ultimately the Police have the legal right to make this decision and, if necessary, bring a prosecution for onstruction under the Highways Act 1980 (section 137).

For example,and in order to clarify the sometimes non-objective/reasonablness of such decisions, I have dealt with cases on the public highway where skips or other items have been placed directly in the path of pedestrians (on footways adjacent to carriageways forcing pedestrians into roads for example), blocking pedestrians passage on the footway to an extent that a pram or pushchair would be unable to pass, but a person could pass the 'obstruction'. When Polic have arrived to deal with the reported obstruction, they have stated there is none as persons are able to pass/re-pass the skip or other item(s), irrespective of wheather the item had been placed legally or illegally on the highway under the requirements of the above Act.

So, horses for courses I am affraid. If the Police say you are obstructing, you are. failure to obseve the reasonable request of
a police officer in uniform in such instances means you are 'wilfully obstructing' and the police may arrest you without warrant, which may lead to prosecution that carries hefty fines and a criminal record.

Hope this assists you in your endeavours.

best regards...

Stuart Nagle
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#4 Posted : 30 January 2001 12:19:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ian Harper
Thanks Stuart,

I think that the mystery is the test of the drivers resonableness against that of the police.

One police officer instructed a tractor to pull onto a path and hence block pedestrian access (dont even try and answer what to do if the police ask you to do something illegal!). The driver considered this unreasonable and an argument ensued, but he was not charged. I can only presume that the police didn't think their test of reasonableness would stand up!

Most roads are single carrigeway leading to school playing fields and the like, or journeys on A roads between districts.

Ian Harper
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#5 Posted : 31 January 2001 09:09:00(UTC)
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Posted By Laurie
I don't know any case law in England, but in Fife, either last year or the year before, a tractor driver was prosecuted, and convicted, for this offence as Driving Without Due Care and Consideration

Laurie
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#6 Posted : 02 February 2001 12:10:00(UTC)
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Posted By Stuart Nagle
Ian.

If the Police give you an instruction, even if it seems unreasonable, one is best to follow it !!

It certainly would not harm your defence, if another incident arose from following the advice of the police officer, to mention in your defence that you thought the advice was unreasonable and that you informed the Police Officer of this.

In view of this, make sure you get names, numbers, dates, times, locations, and if relevant prevailing weather conditions and conditions at the 'locus in quo'(i.e footpath widths, road widths, traffic conditions at time etc) if a prosection arises from your actions under the instruction of the police.

Police Officers is not infallable, and you should at all costs protect your own interests in such matters, the police may not.

Stuart Nagle
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#7 Posted : 06 February 2001 14:26:00(UTC)
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Posted By Chris Knagg
Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40)

For section 3 of the [1988 c. 52.] Road Traffic Act 1988 there shall be substituted—

If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence."

The law says!

But which is the safer a slow moving vehicle on the carriageway or parked obstructing the footway forcing pedestrians onto the carriageway? The highway code says you should not drive or park on a footway. Seems to me as a slow moving vehicle driver you should be making use of appropriate passing places as and when they are available, but not to use the footway as an extension of the carriageway. I'm sure any Highway Engineer would be upset if you start running heavy vehicles onto their footways which are designed for feet not axles. Speaking from experience, it is bad practice to allow large tail backs to gather behind a slow moving vehicle as the impatience of other drivers of faster vehicles generaaly leads to them taking risks to over-take, with the irsk of causing an accident. Would the driver of the slower vehicle be at fault? Could he be seen as contributing to the un-safe act of other drivers? I think in many cases the police have the right to remind drivers of slow vehicles to pull over, in a safe place and let traffic clear if only to reduce the chance of an impatient or stupid act of another road user.


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