15 November 1996

Fast tractor

laws vague…

By Andy Collings

FAR from being enlightened, delegates attending a conference designed to sort out the legal complexities of operating "fast" tractors on the road, probably left as mystified as they arrived.

That is not to level criticism at the conference organisers – Writtle Agricultural College – who endeavoured to provide speakers who were au fait with such subjects.

The problem is a larger one, in that current laws regarding the operation of tractors capable of hauling heavy loads at speeds of 30mph or more are vague, to say the least.

Essex police traffic divisions traffic law instructor PC Ralph Young, who made a brave attempt at explaining the intricacies of the legal requirements for tractors capable of travelling at speeds in excess of 20mph – brakes, suspension etc – would be the first to admit that current legislation is in need of clarification.

"The laws relating to agricultural tractors were designed for those which used to travel at much slower speeds and haul relatively light loads," he says. "Trying to adapt these rules to what is now an entirely new ball game is proving difficult. There could be a case for having a new look at the legal requirements for fast tractors."

PC Young also points out that there have been very few case studies relating to agricultural tractors and, as such, there are few precedents – test cases – to pin down the precise legal requirements.

"Legislation is open to many interpretations," he says.

Confusion continues to reign amid the legally murky waters of "fast" tractors on the road. Inset: Essex traffic law instructor, PcRalph Young.

Light- weight seeding with the ATV operated Super Sow-Lite drill.