There are ripples stirring among the farming community and farming organisations, including the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA), about a possible introduction of NCT-style testing for all agricultural machinery and tractors.
At the moment, tractors with a maximum design speed exceeding 40km/hr that are being used for non-agricultural use and aged four years or more require roadworthiness testing. This was made mandatory back in 2018 but the Road Safety Authority (RSA) are considering extending this to all tractors. A spokesperson for the RSA said, “Based on an analysis of 2022 sales data, it is estimated that up to 55pc of all new tractors sold in Ireland could be considered powerful ‘fast tractors’ capable of achieving speeds in excess of 40km/hr.”
There is already strong resistance from farmers and farming representative groups on the topic. Their argument is that it would put financial pressure on already hard hit farmers and contractors to get their equipment to conform to the required standards, not mentioning the extra paperwork that they would be saddled with.
The RSA’s case for introducing the test is to help reduce farm deaths and injury from farm machinery. They want all farm equipment to be brought up to the required road safety standards. Statistics show that farm vehicles and machinery are involved in over half of farm fatalities. Of the 12 fatalities on farms in 2022, seven of those (59%) were from farm vehicles.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Farm Family and Social Affairs Committee chair, Alice Doyle, said “One accident is one too many, but what we notice in relation to tractor accidents is that an awful lot of them are not necessarily related to the fact that the tractor is not roadworthy, but due to human error.”
The RSA hope to have this scheme in place by the end of this year but with such strong opposition it remains to be seen if this will happen. My guess is that it will run for a good while more.
If and when NCT style testing for all tractors comes into law, what implications will this have on Irish dealers? Owners of such vehicles will either bring their tractors to the required roadworthiness standards or will replace them with newer models. Either way, dealerships could be overrun with repairs and/or sales of new tractors. You may think this would be a win win situation for dealers but it could lead to problems for some. With Ireland in almost full employment finding suitably qualified mechanics to cope with the increase in demand for repairs could prove difficult.
Service Dealer Conference and Awards
There are just over two weeks remaining before the start of the Service Dealer Conference and Awards. It will take place at the Crowne Plaza Stratford upon Avon on Thursday 30th November. The theme of this year’s conference is Taking Care of Business. Great speakers are lined up for the event and the much anticipated awards will take place later that evening at the gala dinner. Nine category award winners will be announced along with the Overall Dealer of the Year Award. I really hope you can come along and attend.