Licensing issues for teenagers and tractors

AS we are in the middle of the summer holidays on many farms the children will be helping out with the day to day running of the family farm, which involves agricultural vehicle work. It is important for members to be aware of the rules regarding vehicle licensing for teenagers.

Anyone between the ages of 13-18 must have attended and passed a formal driving assessment to be allowed to drive tractors anywhere in Northern Ireland. Therefore if you are under 18 and driving a tractor without a Lantra certificate in tractor driving, you are currently breaking the law. Visit the Lantra website; to locate your nearest training provider.

Age 13 years up to 16 years

No person under 16 years of age may drive a vehicle on the road. Between the age of 13 and 16 can however legally drive a tractor during agricultural, horticultural or forestry field operations. Tractors must be fitted with an enclosed, approved safety cab.

Age 16

As a provisional Category F Licence holder, a 16 year old is not permitted to drive a tractor on a public road except when;

Going to, taking or returning from a driving test; or

Engaged in the course of agricultural operations on any road which is not a road where the maximum speed limit is 30mph or less.

As a full driving category F licence holder, a 16 year old may drive a tractor on the public road provided that;

The unladen weight of the tractor does not exceed 2550kg

The vehicle only pulls a trailer less than 2.45m wide with only two wheels or four close coupled.

In addition, in both cases the vehicle must:

Be engaged in the course of agricultural, horticultural or forestry operations.

Be constructed so that the whole of the vehicles weight is transmitted to the road surface by means of its wheels i.e. it is not tracked;

Be registered as an ‘agricultural machine’ in either the limited use class or concessionary class;

Not be driven on a special road within the meaning of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993. An example of a special road is a motorway.

Age 17

As a full category F licence holder, a 17 year old and over may drive any agricultural motor vehicle on a road when used in connection with agriculture, horticulture or forestry.

Trailer test

Car drivers who had obtained a licence after 1 January 1997 must complete a trailer test. It must be noted that individuals wishing to complete the trailer test must carry out the test in a motor vehicle that has rear seats and seatbelts i.e; a Landrover may not necessarily fall under this eligible category. Individuals can complete the trailer test at selected Driver & Vehicle Agency test centres. As long as a driver has category F on their licence they are still entitled to tow a trailer behind a tractor.

The UFU has published a guide to agricultural vehicles on the road booklet which is available for free to all UFU members at your local group office.