Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

‘The idea of a child under 16 driving a tractor on a rural road is extraordinary’

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
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

This issue of children driving tractors hit the airwaves this week with some radio listeners shocked at the driving behaviour of some young farmers.

A listener to Newstalk Breakfast phoned in to air his grievances on the situation. The Louth man said that in his area ,particularly in the summer months, there is a complete disregard for road traffic laws.

He particularly highlighted young boys driving tractors under the age of 16.

“There is flagrant disregard for traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, and people driving while on there mobile phones.

“There are learner drivers all over the place with no supporting passenger driver with them

“I would say in rural Ireland there is no enforcement of the current legislation in relation to road traffic,” the listener said.

His contribution prompted Newstalk Breakfast presenter Mark Coleman to comment that “the idea of a kid under the age of 16 driving a tractor around the roads is extraordinary”.

What are the rules?

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Driving a tractor on the road

Currently a person of 16 years of age can obtain a learner permit (W class) and drive on a public road, irrespective of the size, speed of the agricultural tractor and with large trailers/ implements in tow.

When the W class license was first introduced, the maximum gross vehicle weights and the maximum road speeds of agricultural tractors were significantly less than those currently available.

Also, distances now travelled on public roads have increased as has traffic density and the complexity of the road system.

The current provisions allow an untested driver on the road controlling a tractor operating at gross weights which are at times well in excess of 30 tonne.

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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