Tractor’s and the law – be aware

A 16-year-old driver of a tractor on the A40 at Brecon has found himself collecting fixed penalty notices for driving a vehicle too large for his age, driving a tractor and towing a trailer wider than 2.45 and failing to display beacon lights on a dual carriageway. He was also advised about moving agricultural produce more than 15 miles from the farm when hauling non-agricultural goods. This reminder of the possible dangers, and the probable convictions, which farmers can sometimes unwittingly find themselves facing prompts a closer look at some of the more general regulations and restrictions concerning agricultural vehicles and the law, says the FUW.

Driving licences

A category F driving licence is needed for most agricultural vehicles if driven on the public highway. Some large vehicles can be driven on a normal category driving licence, in certain circumstances. If in any doubt at all it is better to be safe than sorry, and check with the police.

Medium sized vehicles

A category C1 driving licence is needed to drive a vehicle of between 3,500 kilograms and 7,500 kilograms.

The trailer must not be over 750 kilograms in weight, if it is but the total weight of the vehicle and the trailer is no more than 12,000 kilograms, a category C1+E licence is required.

The driver should normally be at least 18-years-old before you can hold a category C1 driving licence, and at least 21-years-old before you can hold a category C1+E driving licence.

Tractors

A category F driving licence is needed to drive an agricultural tractor, and the driver should normally be at least 17-years-old. But a 16- year-old with a full category F driving licence can drive a tractor if it is less than 2.45 metres wide, and can do so pulling a trailer, so long as the trailer is less than 2.45 metres wide and has two wheels (or four close-coupled wheels). However, this is only the case if the journey is in the course of agricultural operations.

Large sized vehicles

A category C driving licence is required to drive a vehicle over 7,500 kilograms, and where a trailer is used under category C, the trailer must not exceed 750 kilograms in weight. If it exceeds that weight, but the total weight of the vehicle and the trailer weigh no more than 12,000 kilograms, a category C+E licence is required. The driver should normally be at least 21-years-old before you can hold a category C or category C+E driving licence.

Quad bikes

A category B1 driving licence is needed to drive a quad bike where the unladen weight does not exceed 550 kilograms, and the driver must normally be at least 17-years-old before holding a category B1 driving licence. Quad bikes must be registered with the DVLA before they can be used on public roads, and then, they can only be used for short distances on public roads.

A number plate, lamps and reflectors must be fitted if used on public roads before sunrise or after sunset and should also be fitted with indicators and a hazard warning light if capable of travelling above 15 miles per hour. Above 20 miles per hour, a horn and a speedometer should also be fitted; above 25 miles per hour – a fog light should also be fitted. Hand signals are allowed if the quad bike is not fitted with indicators and brake lights. Passengers are not allowed.

Tax

Vehicles used solely for agricultural purposes are exempt from vehicle tax, as are ‘Historic vehicles’, constructed before January 1 1973, and mowing machines.

If in any doubt, the FUW advises that you should contact the relevant authority before using any vehicle on the road.

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