THE North West Air Ambulance charity is launching a major road safety campaign to reduce collisions between motorists and farm vehicles.

Its Slow Down for Summer initiative has been backed by police and road safety organisations who hope to reduce the number of such accidents and the accompanying injuries.

In the last few weeks, the charity's emergency helicopter has attended an increasing number of collisions involving cars or motorbikes and farm vehicles including tractors, trailers and combine harvesters.

With the school holidays getting under way and the substantial number of farm vehicles working from early in the morning till late at night, everyone is being asked to ease off on the accelerator.

North West Air Ambulance head of operations Paul West said: 'A car or a motorbike is always going to come off second best against a 10-ton tractor and trailer.

'We are concerned that people are simply going too fast on country roads, and have no idea what's round the may well be a huge combine harvester crossing the road to get to a field..'

The air ambulance was put on standby in May when motorcyclist Ian Wyatt escaped with his life after a collision with a tractor and trailer in Welsh Road at Dodleston. It later transpired he had broken his thigh bone, his arm and had a suspected fractured pelvis.

As part of the initiative, 10,000 free car stickers are being given away asking car drivers, motorcyclists and farmers to take extra care.

The campaign is being sponsored by the Greater Manchester DriveSafe organisation which has been involved in several successful road safety crusades.

The National Farmers' Union is also backing the campaign and will be asking its members to pull over and let cars pass if a queue has built up.

NFU regional director Terry Abbott, said: 'We're delighted to back the Slow Down for Summer campaign. We would ask motorists and motorcyclists to keep their speed down, particularly at this time of year when there are so many tractors and trailers on the roads which often work late into the evening.

'A tractor weighs several tons...that's bad news for a car or a motorbike if they collide. In return we would urge all our members to be aware of traffic building up behind them and wherever possible pull in to allow motorists to pass.' The NWAA operates seven days a week, 365 days a year. But the charity receives no Government funding and does not qualify for lottery grants. It has to find £65,000 every month to keep the helicopter airborne and covers an area stretching over 5,500 miles and serves a population of seven million people.

During the last three months there have been 40 call outs to the Cheshire and Merseyside area. The figure includes some aborted missions where the chop-per was alerted but then stood down.