Unravelling the rules for young tractor drivers

ACCORDING TO the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), agricultural tractors are defined as having two or more axles and made for use off the road in connection with agriculture or forestry.

The definition would appear straightforward enough then. But the legislation governing the use of agricultural tractors by people under 17 years old is cloudy and confusing.

The DSA drivers’ handbook says that agricultural tractors fall under category F, and further advises that you need to be at least 16 years old to drive them on public roads.

So, the main area of conflict is the question: Do you need to complete a driving test to comply with the law? The answer is, yes.

Uncertainty surrounds the limitations placed on 16-year-old drivers. At this age drivers are restricted to tractors of no more than 2.45m wide and are only permitted to drive on the road when travelling to or from a category F vehicle test appointment.

Candidates need to hold a provisional licence to book a category F vehicle test. This can be applied for one month before the candidate reaches his or her 16th birthday, with a D100 form available from the post office.

The test costs 39 and can be booked over the phone or by posting a DL 26 form to the DSA. Visit any DSA driving test centre or call 0870 01 01 372.

As category F vehicles are limited in how far they can travel, the driving inspector will often arrange a meeting place near the candidate’s base to hold the test.

On passing the test, 16-year-olds are permitted to drive on the road, but are still restricted by the 2.45m width until they reach 17 when, according to the DSA guidelines, you can drive any agricultural tractor which falls under category F.

Those who do sit the category F vehicle test can expect to complete an eyesight test. This will most likely be reading a car number plate from 25m.

Sitting the test will also require candidates to carry out special exercises such as reversing around a corner, turning in the road and reverse parking.

The DSA advises that although there is no theory test for category F vehicles, candidates still need to understand the rules and advice given in the Highway Code.

The examiner will ask the participant questions on road safety and road signs, as well as watching how this knowledge is put into practice during the practical test.

Further information – albeit slightly confusing – is available from the DSA and DVLA websites (www.dsa.gov.uk and www.dvla.gov.uk). Alternatively, contact the DSA on 0870 01 01 372 or the DVLA on 0870 240 0009.