Farm Safety and the Use of Vehicles on Public Roads

Most farms and agricultural businesses use a wide variety of different types of vehicles, ranging from tractors to combine harvesters to ATVs to different types of construction equipment.

In addition, many agricultural vehicles use different types of trailers to carry and transport loads both within the farm or agricultural business boundaries, which may well intersect with public highways as well.

It is also quite common for people on farms to use different types of normal motor vehicles and trailers to transport other pieces of agricultural machinery across that own land and public highways as well.

This area of the use of agricultural machinery on public highways is hugely important, because there are normally specific statutes and regulations relative to the use of agricultural machinery and their loads on public highways, as well as specific requirements regarding the age of who can drive what vehicles on such highways.

It is quite possible that the laws and regulations relating to public highways differ slightly from those relating to the use of these vehicles on a farm or agricultural business.

All regulations will differ slightly depending upon where the farm or agricultural businesses is based, but there are a number of important areas that can be highlighted, and where specific information needs be obtained.

It is important to understand how the local authority the following is what it means by a public highway. Whilst it might seem like the obvious to anyone who uses a normal motor vehicle, told highway can mean different things in terms of what types of vehicles allowed to use them.

Whilst most public roads will be open to any member of the public to use, there are likely to be restrictions on what types of vehicle can use them, and conditions as to the age of the person who may drive any vehicle on them.

One specific area that needs to be clarified is the age at which an operative may use any agricultural machinery on the public highway.

In order to use a motor vehicle on a public highway, a specific age will be delegated by the local authority. It is likely that someone of a lower age, quite often late teens will use agricultural machinery on farmland, and may wish to use such machinery on public highways as well.

A local authority is likely to recognise this as a potential issue, I have some type of statute that specifies what type of vehicle may be driven by people of specific ages. There is likely to be a distinction between a normal public highway, and a public highway that intersects farm or business land, which may simply involve a much smaller journey.

Tractors and agricultural machinery often carry large loads, which can present real hazards to other road users. These hazards can be because of the size of the load itself, or often because the size of the load and Vehicle must travel at a very slow speed, often causing congestion and frustration with other users of the road, which can generate potential hazards

Farm equipment may well have specific requirements by virtue of a statute concerning braking systems, bumpers, mirrors, horns and lights. A vehicle carrying any type of load needs to make sure that any trailer that has been used as fully functioning electrical and mechanical equipment as specified by local law.

The use of safety chains is not only good practice, but is likely to be a legal requirement as well. All loads are potentially a risk to other road users, either because they can list and either fall onto other users, or upset the power and driving capability of the vehicle that is pulling them. As such, loads should eat safely secured and checked, not only at the beginning of the journey, but at intermittent intervals throughout, when it is safe to do so.