Safety Bulletins

Mud on Public Highway

FISA Bulletin

2024 for many regions has meant up to three times the average rainfall.

Now is the time to be mindful of mud on the road and the hazard it can present to other road users. Familiarise yourself with the laws around this and the steps you can take to minimise the impact of mud.

Mud left on the road from forestry activity is an ongoing issue and can affect other drivers, which has led to serious accidents in the past. Mud can cause drivers to lose control or to skid, leading to accidents. In adverse weather conditions, the risk of accident due to mud can increase greatly.

The law on mud on the roads

Vehicle operators who deposit mud on the road are potentially liable for a range of offences and may face prosecution and a fine.

There is a range of powers available to the police and the highways departments of local authorities. Most of the powers are laid out in the Highways Act 1980.

  • Section 148 of the act makes it an offence to deposit mud and other materials on the highway that would interrupt other users of the highway.
  • Section 161 of the act states: “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on the highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offence.”

Civil action

When mud has contributed to personal injury or damage to property, it is possible that civil action may be undertaken.

The presence of mud on the highway can constitute a public nuisance and loss or injury can result in a claim for negligence.

The act also gives the highways authority the power to recover any expenses incurred from having to clean an obstruction on the highway.

In addition, driving a vehicle on the public highway with a significant amount of mud attached to it may be considered as ‘dangerous driving’ under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Under this act, section 2a states that the term ‘dangerous’ can include anything which is attached to a vehicle which can include mud.

There are also obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, to look after the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by a working operation.

How can you prevent mud on the roads?

There are a number of actions that you must do to prevent or clear mud on the roads.

Planning is always the key: – ensure the access has adequate stone and drainage and the apron onto the highway is sufficient to prevent debris transferring to the highway, but also ensure suitable turning and stacking areas are kept clear of forest debris.

  • Prevent mud from being deposited on the road in the first place: clear mud from vehicles before taking them out on the road.
  • If there is a danger of leaving mud, use ‘slippery road’ or ‘mud on road’ signs to alert other road users. Make sure any road signs are positioned in a way that gives them maximum visibility and warning to road users.
  • Ensure labour and equipment is available and suitable for the soil and weather conditions.
  • Make an agreement with contractors/hauliers as to who is responsible for mud left on the load, and ensure suitable mud clean up systems and public liability insurance are in place.
  • When clearing roads of mud, make sure that site operatives do not put themselves at further risk.
  • Keep to low speeds when travelling short distances – this can help to keep mud on the vehicle.
  • Keep a log on your decision on whether or not to deploy signs or clean the road.
  • Ensure a written record/detail recorded in the site risk assessment has been kept surrounding the appropriate action that you have taken.


Also take notice of biosecurity guidance; Minimise the spread of pests and diseases by taking responsibility for your own biosecurity practices such as cleaning footwear, vehicles and kit, particularly if you're moving between different forests and woodlands. If you've been served a Statutory Plant Health Notice, take note of the biosecurity requirements that are included in it, and make sure they are applied by everyone accessing the site.

Previous Article Timber Haulage \ Stacking in Ports
Next Article Damage to mounding excavator

Latest Bulletins