Do you and your tractor meet road regulations this silage season?

Tractors and machinery account for half of the accidental deaths on our farms
Tractors and machinery account for half of the accidental deaths on our farms
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

With silage season well under way, it's important that farmers reaccustom themselves with the rules of the road when it comes to driving their tractor during the busy summer season.


To drive a tractor on the road you must have a Category W licence and must be 16 years of age or over.

It must also be covered by third party insurance.

Driving a tractor on a farm

Children under the age of 14 must not be allowed to drive or operate tractors or mechanically propelled machines such as Teleporters, Jeeps, Quad’s etc.

In addition to this, a child or young person aged 14 or over should only be permitted to drive a tractor or mechanically propelled machine on the farm, if;

  • they have attended a formal training course run by a competent training provider, and have received adequate instruction in the safe operation of the particular tractor or mechanically propelled machine they are driving and fully understand the purpose of all the controls and the effect of their improper use,
  • they are closely supervised by a responsible adult,
  • they have the ability to operate the controls with ease,
  • all the controls are conveniently accessible for safe operation when seated in the driver’s seat,
  • the controls which operate the power take off (PTO) devices, hydraulic devices and engine cut-off are clearly marked to show the effect of their operation,
  • the tractor or mechanically propelled machine is maintained so that it is safe for them to operate,
  • the ground over which the tractor or mechanically propelled machine is driven is free from hazards such as steep slopes or excavations, river banks, lake or pond edges, deep ditches and similar areas,
  • no other child or young person is present on the tractor or mechanically propelled machine,
  • other than for the purpose of supervision or instruction, no other person is on any trailer or other equipment being towed,
  • in relation to Quad’s that you consider the Manufacturer’s minimum age recommendations, and
  • no other person is in the immediate vicinity


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Tractors must be equipped with a safe and efficient breaking system. Trailers that are attached to the tractor must be the appropriate weight and size so the vehicle is able to stop in a timely and safe manner.

Trailers must be able to cope with the speed of the tractor it is attached to and must be well maintained.

Agricultural vehicles must be equipped with at least a service brake and a parking brake. Where a tractor is drawing a trailer which exceeds 5 tonnes in laden weight, the service brake must be of a continuous or semi-continuous type.


Tractors must be fitted with full lights that are able to be used at any time and not just during the hours of darkness and reflectors must be in good working order

These lights include: side lamps, head lamps, rear lamps, stop lamps, direction indicators and number plating.

Tractors registered on or before Jan 1 1980 are exempt to these rules.

Tractors must be fitted with a flashing red amber beacon. If a tractor has its lights obscured a lighting board displaying the lighting must be fitted

The use of white lamps or ploughing lamps aren't allowed while travelling on a public road at night time.

Weight specifications

To maintain road safety and the conditions of the road, it is important that farmers adhere to national weight limits. These limits are based on the number of axles fitted, the spacing between the axles and the type of coupling fitted.

The weight limit for a two-axle tractor is 18 tonnes and a three-axle tractor is 24 tonnes.

The weight limit for ridge drawbar trailers are 13 tonnes for a single axle, 19 tonnes for a tandem axle and 22.5 tonnes for a triaxle.

Breaching of these standards could mean a summons to court and you could be fined up to €2,500.


Tractors must be fitted with manufacturer’s plating which contains information such as the manufacturer’s name, the vehicle ID number and total permissible mass. Trailers must also be fitted with similar plating


Farmers should ensure that tractor tyres are clean to avoid mud and stones from collecting on the road and being of hazard to road users. Loads of lime and other dusty matter must be fully covered with a tarpaulin to avoid spillages on to the road.

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