Road rule changes for farm machinery

Farm vehicles and forklifts present unique safety risks when travelling on public roads.

Their size, shape and the speeds at which they travel can be an issue for other road users. There are legal requirements which must be followed when using these vehicles on the road to ensure your safety and that of others on the road.



Many vehicles constructed for use on the farm also need to use the road. For example, a rural contractor wanting to move machinery from one farm to another.

However, a forklift is designed primarily to lift, carry or stack goods using one or more tines, clamps or other attachments.

To drive a forklift on the road you need to have the correct licence class for the weight of your vehicle and a forklift (F) endorsement on your driver licence.

Whether it’s on the road or elsewhere, to operate a forklift you need to meet the requirements of the approved code of practice for training operators and instructors of powered industrial lift trucks. You can find the code of practice on the Department of Labour website.

To recognise that modern agricultural tractors are getting longer, the allowable front over-hang has been increased from three to four metres from the driver’s seat.

High visibility paint is an acceptable alternative to hazard warning panels for highlighting front over-hangs beyond four metres.

Pilot vehicles are required for vehicles exceeding 3.1 m wide and 40km/h or 3.1 m wide and during hours of darkness regardless of speed.

Up to three oversized agricultural motor vehicles may now travel in convoy as long as they’re accompanied by front and rear pilot vehicles.

Category 1 and 2 agricultural motor vehicles are now exempt from travel time restrictions on public roads. However, they may not travel during periods of unusually heavy traffic volumes.

To make agricultural motor vehicles more visible when operated on the road, one or more amber beacons must be fitted to agricultural motor vehicles registered on or after June 1, 2013.

The beacon must be visible for up to 100 metres from the front or rear of the vehicle.

Several variations of work time hours have been introduced to allow the agricultural sector to complete tasks such as harvesting, where time is an issue. These include:

• Making anyone who drives a tractor or agricultural vehicle requiring a Class 1 licence exempt from work time limits

• Providing the option for farmers and agricultural contractors to apply for a variation to allowable work time or required rest breaks for the purpose of critical agricultural operations

• Introducing a simplified process to assess and approve alternative fatigue management schemes.

Drivers of agricultural motor vehicles, weighing more than 18 tonnes, or driven in excess of 40km/h are subject to work time, but those drivers don’t have to maintain logbooks if they drive less than 50km on a road in any day.

Requirements for coupling pins, tow-eyes and safety chains used when towing agricultural trailers have been updated to reflect current practice.

The details can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/agri-vehicles-guide/

(Source NZTA website).


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