Open­ing the road to more work­ers

A $51 mil­lion ben­e­fit is seen in Gov­ern­ment plans to re­lax the rules for farm ve­hi­cle use, Ali Tocker re­ports

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Farm­ers and farm work­ers will be able to drive for longer hours in cer­tain cir­cum­stances to meet farm­ing re­al­i­ties, un­der new rules pro­posed by the Gov­ern­ment.

In other pro­posed changes, more peo­ple would qual­ify to drive more types of farm ve­hi­cles on the road, in­creas­ing the pool of avail­able work­ers.

And farm ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling slower than 40kmh on the road would be ex­empt from a war­rant of fit­ness, while those go­ing faster than 40kmh would need a war­rant only once a year rather than ev­ery six months.

As­so­ciate Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges has an­nounced a raft of pro­posed law changes for the use of agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles on the road, say­ing the changes would re­duce com­pli­ance costs and bring greater flex­i­bil­ity while still en­sur­ing safety.

“Farm­ers and con­trac­tors some­times work long and ir­reg­u­lar hours; for in­stance, crops need to be har­vested when they are ready and when the weather is right,’’ he said.

‘‘The laws on the use of agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles need to be fit for pur­pose and the pro­posed changes bet­ter re­flect the needs of this very im­por­tant in­dus­try.”

The Trans­port Min­istry es­ti­mates the pro­posed changes should bring ben­e­fits worth $51 mil­lion over 25 years.

Un­der the changes, most driv­ers of agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling un­der 40kmh would be ex­empt from the work­driv­ing-hours re­stric­tions, which were in­tro­duced into law in New Zealand to guard against driver fa­tigue.

The min­istry said fa­tigue had not fea­tured much in re­ports for crashes in­volv­ing agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles, with only one such crash in 13 years list­ing fa­tigue as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

Em­ploy­ers would still have to en­sure the health and safety of their staff, and work­ers would still be en­ti­tled to their statu­tory breaks un­der the new rules.

Agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling slower than 40kmh on the road would be ex­empt from war­rant of fit­ness re­quire­ments but must be road­wor­thy.

Hold­ers of a re­stricted car li­cence can drive these ve­hi­cles.

Agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling faster than 40kmh on the road would need an an­nual war­rant of fit­ness, rather than six­monthly, and could be driven by hold­ers of a class 2 li­cence or agri­cul­tural en­dorse­ment.

Car li­cence hold­ers with an agri­cul­tural en­dorse­ment would also be able to drive a greater range of agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles once they proved they had the skills to do so.

Other changes would im­prove and sim­plify the rules around pi­lot ve­hi­cles, haz­ard iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and ve­hi­cle vis­i­bil­ity.

‘‘Safety re­mains a key fac­tor,’’ Mr Bridges said.

Newly-reg­is­tered agri­cul­ture ve­hi­cles would have to use a flash­ing am­ber bea­con, vis­i­ble from the front and rear at dis­tances of at least 100 me­tres.

The min­istry said crash sta­tis­tics showed a lead­ing cause of crashes in­volv­ing agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles was a lack of warn­ing to other road users about slow-mov­ing agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles on nar­row and wind­ing ru­ral roads.

The pro­pos­als fol­low a Gov­ern­ment-led re­view of the law for on-road agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles, re­quested by the in­dus­try to en­sure rules more closely matched re­al­ity.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers was in­volved in the re­view and wel­comed the pro­posed changes, say­ing they were com­mon sense and would sim­plify com­pli­ance.

“While farm­ers and con­trac­tors wanted to re­duce com­pli­ance costs and red tape, no­body wanted this re­view to com­pro­mise road safety. Fed­er­ated Farm­ers be­lieves this has been achieved,” the group’s trans­port spokesman, Ian Macken­zie, said.

“With these rules the pub­lic can be con­fi­dent that agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles are safe on the road.’’

The pub­lic would have the op­por­tu­nity to have a say on the pro­posed changes through sub­mis­sions, be­cause the land trans­port law had to be changed be­fore the new rules would ap­ply.

Fi­nal changes were expected to come into force early next year. De­tails of pro­posed changes are on the min­istry web­site.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.