2016 brought new reg­u­la­tions for use of agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles on Ir­ish roads Agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles and road traf­fic of­fences: Know the rules

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Karen Walsh

A re­port from the Health and S a f e t y A u t h o r i t y ( H S A ) showed that within the pe­riod of 2007-2016, over 48% of fa­tal­i­ties that oc­curred in the agri­cul­tural work­place in­volved in­ci­dents with agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles or ma­chin­ery. Re­ports from the Garda Síochána also show that six peo­ple were killed in fa­tal col­li­sions in­volv­ing agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles on pub­lic roads in 2016.

These fig­ures em­pha­sise just how dan­ger­ous farm ma­chin­ery and trac­tors can be, and the im­por­tance of re­spon­si­ble driv­ing, and tak­ing pre­cau­tions when driv­ing an agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cle. Agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles have be­come far more de­vel­oped in the last num­ber of years, mak­ing them much big­ger, faster and more so­phis­ti­cated than ever be­fore. Jan­uary 1, 2016, saw the in­tro­duc­tion of new reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the use of agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles on Ir­ish roads. The changes came about as a re­sult of a com­pre­hen­sive re­view by the Road Safety Author­ity (RSA) of the pre­vi­ous leg­is­la­tion in this area, along with its prac­ti­cal im­pli­ca­tions and the evo­lu­tion of mod­ern agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles. In most cases, any trac­tor bought within the last 12 years or so will al­ready com­ply with the new reg­u­la­tions. How­ever, it is still im­por­tant to be aware of the law in this area along with the reper­sions cus­sions for break­ing it. In most cases, trac­tors that don’t com­ply will only re­quire min­i­mal in­ex­pen­sive work to bring them up to com­pli­ance stan­dard.

The new reg­u­la­tions pay a large amount of at­ten­tion to the use of trailers on roads. Trailers in­tended to be used to carry heav­ier weights or at speeds of more than 40km/h are now obliged to be fit­ted with a speed disc and a na­tional weights and di­menare plate.

All trailer users should fa­mil­iarise them­selves with the spe­cific weight re­quire­ments, along with rules about the dis­tri­bu­tion of such weight. There are also some ex­cep­tions to these re­vised weight lim­its, and cer­tain types of in­ter­change­able towed equip­ment will not re­quire com­pli­ance. With re­gards to brak­ing, any ve­hi­cle in­tend­ing to travel in ex­cess of 40km/h now re­quires a more pow­er­ful brak­ing sys­tem.

This re­quire­ment re­flects the rapid ad­vance­ment of ma­chin­ery and ve­hi­cles in re­cent years, and their abil­ity to reach higher speeds than ever be­fore.

While this re­quire­ment is largely met by most trac­tors, it is im­por­tant to en­sure this to be so, given the haz­ardous road con­di­tions of­ten brought about by the Ir­ish weather, and their im­pact on brak­ing. The new reg­u­la­tion also re­quires trac­tors to have a flash­ing bea­con and re­flec­tive mark­ings to pro­vide warn­ing to other road users. Trac­tor driv­ers should al­ways en­sure op­ti­mum vis­i­bil­ity, not just when driv­ing at night or in bad weather, and farm­ers should check all head lights, brake lights and in­di­ca­tors reg­u­larly. Fail­ure to com­ply with the new reg­u­la­tions has se­ri­ous con­se­quences, with those in breach fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a courts sum­mons with a po­ten­tial fine of up to €2,500, a prison sen­tence, or both if con­victed.

With re­gard to road traf­fic of­fences and agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles, most peo­ple are aware of the im­pli­ca­tions of speed­ing, dan­ger­ous driv­ing, or driv­ing with­out tax or in­sur­ance. where cars are con­cerned.

But what hap­pens in these in­stances where it is some­one com­mit­ting the of­fence with an agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cle? Agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles are gov­erned by the nor­mal rules of the road and road traf­fic laws on driver’s li­censes, tax and in­sur­ance, with the same reper­cus­sions ap­ply­ing if they not com­plied with. Trac­tor driv­ers re­quire a cat­e­gory W li­cence.

With re­gard to in­sur­ance, any ve­hi­cle used in a pub­lic place must be cov­ered by third party in­sur­ance, as re­quired by leg­is­la­tion.

It is worth not­ing that a pub­lic place not only in­cludes pub­lic roads, ma­jor or mi­nor, but also ap­plies to marts and fac­tory yards. In­sur­ance is also re­quired on all trailers. Trac­tor driv­ers must also be ex­tremely care­ful when trans­port­ing loose ma­te­rial such as silage, slurry or gravel, be­cause re­lease of such ma­te­ri­als on a pub­lic road is likely to cause an ac­ci­dent or dam­age to the ve­hi­cle be­hind.

Sec­tion 13 of the Roads Act 1993 states that it is an of­fence to al­low stones, clay or any other ma­te­rial to re­main on a pub­lic road, where do­ing so would cause a haz­ard or po­ten­tial haz­ard to peo­ple us­ing the road, and would ob­struct or in­ter­fere with the safe use of the road.

What­ever the driv­ing con­di­tions, trac­tor own­ers need to com­ply with re­quire­ments such as speed disc, weights and di­men­sions plate, trailer weight lim­its and dis­tri­bu­tion, brak­ing, flash­ing bea­con and re­flec­tive mark­ings, and lights, as well as the nor­mal re­quire­ments for any road ve­hi­cle.

Karen Walsh, from a farm­ing back­ground, is a so­lic­i­tor prac­tic­ing in Walsh & Part­ners, Solic­i­tors, 17, South Mall, Cork (021-4270200), and au­thor of ‘Farm­ing and the Law’. Walsh & Part­ners also spe­cialises in per­sonal in­jury claims, con­veyanc­ing, pro­bate and fam­ily law. Email: info@wal­shand­part­ners.ie Web: www.wal­shand­part­ners.ie While ev­ery care is taken to en­sure ac­cu­racy of in­for­ma­tion con­tained in this ar­ti­cle, so­lic­i­tor Karen Walsh does not ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for er­rors or omis­sions how­so­ever aris­ing, and you should seek le­gal ad­vice in re­la­tion to your par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble time.

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