The prospects of a testing scheme that allows higher speed and weight limits for tractors and trailers may look a little brighter after a meeting between representatives from the Agricultural Engineers’ Association, the DfT and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
Presenting its proposals for a vehicle safety check, the AEA received a non-committal response from government officials, who did not reject the concept outright, but said they required more detailed information on how the scheme would work.
The AEA has been running a trailer braking survey, which has highlighted some alarming results, with less than 10% of trailers meeting the minimum statutory level of 25% braking efficiency.
The industry body says this highlights the need for testing particularly if farmers and contractors intend carrying heavier loads at higher speeds and within the limits of the law.
The proposal would be to introduce a new category of tractor speed limit between the existing 20mph barrier for conventional tractors and the 40mph limit for fully-suspended machines such as the JCB Fastrac and Mercedes Unimogs.
Tractors that pass an MOT-type test would then be able to travel at up to 30mph, providing they are equipped with ABS.
Similarly, trailers rated to travel at such speeds would have to be fitted with a twin-line braking system – either air or hydraulic – and would have to be regularly tested.
The three organisations will now have regular meetings to discuss how legislation can be updated to take account of modern farming practices and machinery.