Saving lives on our roads is more important than cost of roadworthiness tests, a motoring chief has warned.
Road deaths in Ireland fell to the lowest level on record in 2017, but 158 people lost their lives on the country’s roads las year and the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) President Verona Murphy, believes the compulsory NCT roadworthiness tractor tests being introduced in five months time in May, will be vital in saving lives and cutting down on injury no matter what the cost.
Ms Murphy who has been championing the introduction of such a law for several years, said such regulation is, “essential and can’t be left to chance.”
She made her remarks following criticism from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) that such a test is, “duplicating safety laws” dating back to 2005 and is putting an unnecessary burden on farmers.
“Why shouldn’t modern tractors have to undergo extensive testing? Many are capable of carrying weights of up to 20t which is similar to many trucks.
“Irish road hauliers undergo very stringent and extremely expensive testing on their vehicles and have to pass on 74 points. In the UK hauliers have to pass on a lower number of points at 52 points.
“Look what is of paramount importance to the argument is saving lives and cutting back on the horrendously high numbers killed and injured on our roads, not skimping on how much money it costs to ensure how powered vehicles, such as modern tractors are safe to use our roads.
“Even since 2005, which is only 12 years ago, tractors have become more high powered and capable of doing commercial work whether used for this purpose or not.
"There are increasing numbers of larger, high-horsepower tractors in Ireland with 50kph transmissions’– typically in contractors’ fleets or owned by large tillage farmers. Such tractors have started to become more common place during the past 10 to 15 years.
“This new law is part of an EU Directive followed by all other countries in the Union and it must be followed regardless of any consultation being called for by those affected.
“Lives are more important not money and that should never be forgotten.”
Figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO) show that last year, 1,986 new tractors were licensed.
Over the past 10 years 46 out of 47 collisions involving tractors on the nation’s roads have proved fatal according to the RSA.
However, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) National Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne has strongly objected to plans by the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to what he terms as, “duplicate tractor safety laws imposed on farmers, by seeking to introduce a road worthiness test for tractors used for normal farming activities.”
Mr Dunne said: “The Department of Transport’s proposals ignore the reality that farmers are already legally required under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure that brakes, handbrake, mirrors, lights, indicators, wipers and hitches are all in working order. This is needless duplication which is being imposed on farmers, without any consultation.
“The lack of understanding….is best illustrated by their inclusion of general farming activity and a 25km distance-from-base limit as ‘commercial haulage’, thereby requiring the same testing as vehicles used for large scale commercial haulage.
“Many farms in this country are divided into several parcels, with out-farms some distance away common place. The simple fact is that the majority of farmers are not involved in commercial haulage and are not getting paid for transporting their livestock to marts and factories.
“The number of factories processing sheep, for example, continues to fall. Once farmers are compliant with the 2005 Act, this should not be duplicated..…”
In a statement the RSA said the requirement to introduce compulsory testing for such tractors is on foot of an EU Directive that Ireland should have implemented already this year.
The regulations introducing the measure have now been signed by the Transport Minister Shane Ross finally allowing the measure to coms into effect next year.
The statement added: “The situation is that the introduction of compulsory roadworthiness testing for tractors will only apply to those capable by design of exceeding 40km/hr (i.e. fast tractors) being used for commercial road haulage purposes at a distance exceeding 25km from the operator’s base.
“This is a very small subset of the total number of tractors in the national fleet. It is aimed at those who are using fast tractors for commercial haulage purposes.”
The RSA intends issuing guidelines on the issue in the coming weeks.