Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 21 September 2017

Avoid fines of up to €2,500 and ensure your tractor and trailer is legal

Agri vehicles must be equipped with full lighting systems at all times
Agri vehicles must be equipped with full lighting systems at all times

Theresa Murphy

It's always good to have peace of mind when driving out onto a public road with your tractor and trailer so keeping up to speed with the regulations is important.

In the event of an accident, if you are found to have fallen foul of the new laws governing the area then you may find yourself in difficulty with both your insurance firm and the gardai.

January 2016 saw the introduction of new standards for new and existing agricultural vehicles which relate to braking, lighting and visibility, weights, dimensions and coupling, and plating and speed rating.

The various changes under the new rules are set out throughout the articles but it is important to make sure you are familiar with all the changes under the law.

There is a full guide available from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) - Revised standards for agricultural vehicles - and it can also be accessed on their website at www.rsa.ie.

Lighting and visibility

Tractors and self-propelled agricultural machines must be equipped with full lighting systems at all times, and not just during lighting up hours.

They must also be fitted with a working flashing amber beacon which must be lit when the vehicle is in use in a public place, day or night.

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If you are found to be in breach of the regulations you will have an opportunity to pay a fixed charge rather than have a court appearance.

These type of offences carry a €60 fine if paid within 28 days and a €90 fine if paid within a further 28 days.

Those offences include:

  • Using a vehicle not equipped with prescribed lamps and identification
  • Mark lighting
  • Using a trailer not equipped with prescribed lamps and identification
  • Using a vehicle not equipped with prescribed rear projecting load lamp or
  • lateral projecting load lamp
  • Using a trailer not equipped with prescribed marker lamp

However, for other lighting related offences, you could receive a summons to court, if convicted you could be fined up to €2,500, be given a prison sentence, or both.

With the exception of where it can be shown that the vehicle was taken with out the owner's permission, both the owner of the vehicle and whoever is driving it when the offence is recorded can be fined.

Weight, dimensions and coupling

There are a number of changes to the rules regarding trailer weights, and for tractor and trailer towing combinations which are listed on the previous page.

There are no exemptions to the weight restrictions and you should consult the detailed guidelines about weight as well as coupling and permitted dimensions.

The penalties are severe if found in breach of these regulations - you could receive a summons to court. If you're convicted, you could be fined up to €2,500, receive a prison sentence, or both.

Plating

Under the new measures the trailer must have a sticker signalling the maximum design speed that it is intended to travel.

In addition, the authorisation plates (seen on previous page) on trailers must show the manufacturer's name, vehicle identification number (VIN), maximum design speed and permitted laden weight, maximum drawbar loading, vehicle length and width. A manufacturer's plate must be fitted to a tractor.

However, tractors first registered before January 1, 2016 will not be required to have plates fitted if the tractor cannot travel at speeds over 40km/h or if it is being used to draw either tandem or a tri-axle rigid drawbar trailers with laden weights of 19t or 22.5t or less respectively.

Trailers manufactured before January 1, 2016 will not be required to have plates retrofitted unless they are rigid drawbar trailers designed to travel at speeds over 40km/h or are designed to operate at laden weights greater than 19t or 22.5t respectively.

If you don't comply with the new standards, you could receive a court summons. If you're convicted, you could be fined up to €2,500, be given a prison sentence, or both.

You should contact the manufacturer for guidance on the plate contents.

You should also bear in mind that if you are borrowing equipment which does not meet the requirements you will also be guilty of an offence.

Theresa Murphy is a barrister based in Co Galway

Indo Farming