FARMERS and crofters are being urged to put down their mobile phones whilst driving tractors, vehicles and machinery.

As the annual Farm Safety Week came to an end, NFU Scotland highlighted the issue of using mobiles whilst driving as a very visible failing in the industry's basic standard of health and safety.

"Whether driving on a main road or on farm track, using a phone whilst driving any vehicle is illegal and needs to be taken seriously," said the union. "Even a momentary lapse in concentration can have disastrous results with potentially life changing consequences for not only the operator but those working with and around them. These are large, powerful and potentially dangerous machines being used on farms and crofts and need to be treated as such

"In addition to the safety aspect, being caught driving on your phone can result in a substantial fine," said NFUS. "And for those who have passed their test in the last two years, being caught using the phone while driving can lead to a loss of license."

The union's Legal and Technical Chair, Tom French, commented: “If there is one thing we should take from Farm Safety Week it is that we, as farmers and crofters, need to be completely vigilant when undertaking tasks, even if they seem easy or mundane.

“Using a mobile phone completely distracts, even for a few seconds. That is enough time for something to go wrong and to cause and accident.

“We as an industry need to, and can do, better when it comes to farm safety and the best way to do that is to start with the simple things, like not using our mobile phones when driving or operating machinery," said Mr French.

“It is important to have your phone on you in case of emergencies, but with all the alternatives now available for in cabs and vehicles there is no excuse to be using your handset while driving.”