Operators of twin-tracked tractors must ensure they have a category H test before getting behind the wheel this harvest, and advanced booking is advised after a testing backlog.
The disruption of the past year has meant a mounting workload for examiners, so anyone planning to lock in a test before harvest should do it as a matter of urgency.
Waiting times are well over one month – and much longer in some cases – and we were placed in a queue on our visit to the DSA website’s booking page.
Category H designation applies to twin-track tractors and other machinery, such as tanks, that steer by slowing one track and speeding up the other.
In agriculture, this applies to John Deere’s RT models and Fendt’s MT 900 and 1100 machines. Articulated tractors such as Case-IH’s Quadtrac don’t fall into this category.
Without a completed test, operators risk fines and equipment seizure if pulled over by the authorities, and if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, insurance invalidation and possible prosecution could follow.
Booking the test
Unlike other tests, many agricultural training providers don’t offer category H as a service due to the bespoke nature of the machines, and because applicants must book through the DSA website.
Once at the “book a test” page, scroll down to the “other” drop-down box that will bring up the option for a tracked vehicle. Applicants must then suggest a suitable location, including a postcode for the examiner to meet them at. If you have a yard big enough to simulate junctions and roundabouts then this could work. Alternatively, choose a location that isn’t near busy areas such as schools.
Remember, applicants must be 21 or over and already hold a valid car licence. You’ll be asked to pay £62 to complete the booking, with examiners replying with confirmation of a date and time for the test.
What does the test include?
Anyone with some practical experience of using twin-track crawlers shouldn’t have anything to fear regarding the driving part of the test.
The examiner will meet you on site and stand at the side of the road or course and watch as you make left and right turns at a junction, plus stopping and starting procedures. There will likely be a roundabout to negotiate or a simulated one if the test is taking place in a yard.
The second part of the process is to answer questions on the highway code, so it is advisable to swot up on this beforehand. Some of the possible topics include sign identification and laws for oversized equipment. You can practice on the road before your test with someone who holds a category H licence.
To book a test, click the link – gov.uk/book-driving-test – and then “Start now”.