Farmers using imported jeeps to tow trailers could be in breach of the law, insist Limerick-based gardai.
Many of the 4x4 jeeps which have been imported into this country in recent years do not have the specification necessary for drawing a trailer or livestock box, according to Limerick Traffic Corp officers, who addressed a farmer meeting in Adare last week.
Garda Dermot Hallett advised farmers in the county using imported 4x4s to check their vehicles for a GCVW plate [Gross Combination Vehicle Weight] to certify that the vehicle complies with the legal requirements for towing.
"We have come across several of these imported 4x4 vehicles that do not have a GCVW plate. Unless the vehicle has that plate with the approved combined weight shown, you are not entitled to use them for towing because they are not certified by the manufacturer for that use," Garda Hallett told the startled group of farmers.
"The vehicle must have the plate or they are not legal for towing," he warned.
The gardai advised that some imports do meet the requirements but they have found that particular makes or models, some of which are quite popular by farmers in this country, are less likely to comply than others.
When asked how there could be a difference between two jeeps that were the same model, even if they were from different jurisdictions, the gardai advised that "there are different specifications for the same vehicles and that is why it is important to ensure that they are certified by examining the plate".
He said the problem does not arise with such vehicles bought new in Ireland, but farmers buying imported vehicles should be aware of what they are getting.
He said that the combined weight is the total permitted weight of the towing vehicle, trailer or livestock box, and any load or livestock being carried.
He said it was a myth that it is permitted to draw heavier loads using multi-axle trailers.
"In fact, the greater number of axles, the less you can carry because the additional weight of the axles has to be taken into account," he warned.
The Garda also advised the farmers that their driving licence must entitle them to tow a vehicle, and if they are on a permit -- awaiting a driving test for full licence for towing -- they must be accompanied at all times by a fully qualified driver.
Farmers drawing wide machinery -- eg 10ft mowers -- on the public road are required by law to obtain a permit from the county council.