Road Safety News

NFU ‘disappointed’ by trailer weight limit ruling

Friday 17th February 2017

The National Farmer’s Union (NFU) has expressed disappointment after the Government revealed there would be no further increase to the on-the-road weight limit for agricultural trailers.

In an announcement on 3 February, the DfT said that further increasing the permitted trailer weights would lead to significant additional wear on road surfaces, costing around £25m per year.

The DfT added that it is conscious of the effect that heavier trailers would have on other rural road users, and the burden it would place on authorities responsible for road maintenance.

In response, the NFU says the rules on tractor/trailer weights are outdated, not fit for purpose and do not reflect the capabilities of modern agricultural machinery.

For many years the maximum legally permitted weight of a tractor/trailer combination was pegged at 24.39 tonnes with the maximum weight of a trailer in that combination at 18.29 tonnes.

In March 2015, the Government announced that it would raise the weight of a tractor/trailer combination to 31 tonnes. However, the weight limit for a trailer did not change and remained at 18.29 tonnes.

At the time, the Government committed to examine the possibility of further increases to trailer weights. However, it now says that further analysis indicates that the limits set in 2015 struck the right balance between the costs and benefits of higher weights.

Photo: National Farmer's Union.



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I suppose my comments may see somewhat antagonistic. I am not anti farming and again reiterate that most heavy machinery of this sort is contracted out to do a job of work and then it is returned to depot or transported on to the next renter. It generally travels by low loader. That said some farmers have certain dangerous equipment that under Con and Use Regs would constitute a dangerous load and yet they still transport these machines around the roads. As such they constitute a danger if only to the detriment of one person. If only one person loses their life its one person too many or do we say its only a few dead, nothing to worry ourselves about. Its an insignificant number of incidents and the victim is just as likely to blame for being there in the first place. They should have been more aware of the dangers that farming brings to our roads. So like ostriches we bury our heads in the sand and nothing is done about it.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

Good afternoon Bob,

I must have misconstrued your wording of 'should be banned'.

An interesting point you raise of potential solutions. Yet I'm failing to see how they would work practically, economically, and in a timely manner.

Such an intervention for a vehicle type which is only involved in less than a quarter of one percent of all collisions would seem mis-spent. I think bigger gains would be made if it were applied elsewhere e.g. targeting the most at risk vulnerable road users, riders of motor cycles such as yourself.

If you ride regularly on rural roads should you not be expecting to encounter agricultural vehicles, much as you should equestrians in the road, or groups of walkers?

Do you have a link to the MAFF document? I'm intrigued to see if its as dated as the MAFF is itself.

Yes Hugh I agree. Good tractor a Massey too. 6000 series (I think).
Dan, Cornwall

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Dan. I am in no way advocating a ban. What I would like to see as a motorcyclist and one who travels minor country roads frequently (could be a horse rider or cyclists or pedestrians etc.) is some common sense. A farmer has to comply with health and safety whilst using dangerous equipment is being used on the farm then its a little more to follow simple rules of the road. The Ministry of Agriculture have a paper that they can distribute and which warns them of the dangers of trailing around such dangerous loads on the Highways and various ways in which they can reduce the danger to other road users. Many farmers do not own such expensive machinery and employ agencies to not only supply the machinery but also to work the fields for them. Its a simple matter getting the equipment to wherever its necessary and that usually means that it comes out of a depot and is loaded on a trailer for many mile to its destination.

Further I would wish suggest that if any machinery is moved more locally on the Queens Highway then it wouldn't hurt to have an escort vehicle, say a trike or 4 wheel buggy or similar with an orange flashing unit to sit in front of the machinery as an escort vehicle whilst it is in movement along the road with perhaps a speed limit restriction. I think there would be less accidents or collisions if that were to put into place.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (0) | Disagree (2)

Is it just me who finds looking at the photo above quite restful?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Agree that Government seem to have a duel standard, and also agree that some farmers do not adhere to the law, but how do you expect food to be produced if the towing of this type of machinery is banned?

Are you suggesting every time a farmer wants to move their machinery they must mount the machinery on a trailer? Not only increasing the amount of trips, but more than likely increasing non-compliance with trailer weight laws? Needless to say a potential increase overhanging vegetation onto the highway.

A Farmer's land is often not fully connected and is intersected by highway. They often have no choice. Enhanced education may be better than a ban.
Dan, Cornwall

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Seems to me that the government departments are not overly concerned with the increased damage to our roads and have agreed increased sizes and weights of all HGV, goods carrying vehicles on our motorways and arterial road but do not believe that such an increase is acceptable for tractors. Whilst it shows something of a duel standard I do believe that farm vehicles are big enough and create sufficient danger with larger implements being attached forward and aft of them. Implements with razor sharp points or edges that can cut a person in half if ever they may unfortunately come into contact with them (and in the past they have). These leviathans with such dangerous equipment attached should be banned as they are an offence under Con and Use Regs. They are commonly seen on our roads in non compliance with the government guidelines which recommends that they be suitably covered or transported in some other safer way. Something many farmers know about but do not comply with.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (7) | Disagree (5)