Tractors will not be required to undertake roadworthiness testing in the UK, the government has ruled.
Farmers and contractors have welcomed the decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) not to impose mandatory MOT-style tests for tractors.
Despite some opposition, the DfT agreed with industry views that road use for agricultural tractors is limited compared to other vehicles. Therefore, mandatory vehicle testing will not be introduced.
However, roadworthiness testing for tractors used for commercial haulage and capable of travelling at more than 40kph (approximately 25mph) is being introduced from 20 May 2018.
It will apply only to vehicles used further than 15 miles from their base of operation. These tractors should be tested after four years and every two years thereafter.
“Although many tractors do not require a roadworthiness test, all tractor owners must ensure their vehicle is roadworthy before using it on the public road,” said the DfT, in its ruling.
“This is a legal requirement. In addition, general health and safety requirements apply when using a tractor off the road.”
The DfT’s consultation sought views on the introduction of roadworthiness testing for fast tractors and other changes to roadworthiness testing. It received 39 responses from individuals, businesses and organisations.
The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) welcomed the decision to keep tractors classified as “agricultural machines” for tax purposes exempt from testing.
Jill Hewitt, NAAC technical consultant, said: “Agricultural tractors spend the majority of their time off-road and the NAAC supports the decision not to introduce mandatory roadworthiness testing.
“However, it is important that contractors and farmers use the vehicles solely for agricultural use and do not step into commercial haulage without abiding by necessary transport regulations.”
She added: “It is also vital, to protect the safety of road users, that all tractors are safe on the roads and the industry must continue to be rigorous in daily maintenance checks and regular servicing.”
The majority of tractors may travel at 40kph on the road. The weight limit for agricultural tractor and trailer combinations is 31 tonnes. The trailer itself is limited to 18.29 tonnes (including any load imposed on the tractor through the hitch).