Wednesday 28 September 2016

The new vehicle rules explained

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

More powerful braking systems will be required for agricultural vehicles operating at speeds in excess of 40km/h. Most of the correctly maintained tractors which have come into use in the past 30 years already meet these requirements.

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Agricultural vehicles will need to be equipped with appropriate lighting systems, flashing amber beacons and reflective markings.

Trailers operating at weights exceeding 19 and 22.5 tonnes for tandem and triaxle trailers respectively, or at speeds exceeding 40 kilometres per hour, will require fitment of both a weights and dimensions plate and a speed disc.

New national weight limits are being introduced. These will enable tractor and trailer combinations which are unplated to continue in use at limits which are safe for such vehicles.

In this case combinations of agricultural tractors and trailers, where either of them is unplated, will have their maximum towable mass capped at 3 times the tractor's unladen weight.

Plated tractors and trailer combinations will benefit from being able to operate at higher weight limits of up to 24 and 34 tonnes for tandem and triaxle agricultural trailers respectively, provided that meet certain additional requirements.

Those four requirements are that they:

- must be plated

- must be fitted with a flexible suspension system

- must be fitted with flotation tyres for operation at 10 tonnes per axle in the case of a tandem axle trailer or 9 tonnes per axle in the case of a triaxle trailer

- they must be fitted with a steered or steering axles if they have an axle spacing of 1.8 metres or greater.

Exemptions from compliance with the revised national weight limits and plating requirements are being provided for certain types of interchangeable towed equipment such as slurry tankers, manure or fertiliser spreaders and grain chaser bins.

Revised width limits are also being introduced for agricultural vehicles.

Additionally, self-propelled agricultural machinery exceeding 3.5 metres in width travelling on public roads from 1st January 2016 must have an escort vehicle.

This escort vehicle must drive in front, use dipped headlights and carry working flashing amber beacons and a 'CAUTION -WIDE LOAD FOLLOWING' sign.

The machinery being escorted must also carry flashing amber beacons, one of which must be visible to the rear and display a 'WIDE LOAD' sign to the rear.

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