Rule changes for farm vehicles get Govt nod
Farmers approve of "commonsense" changes for agricultural vehicles by the Government which will save them an estimated $51 million.
Farmers have been lobbying for simplifying some rules for agricultural vehicles and yesterday the Government signalled they would proceed.
Among the changes, vehicles operating below 40kmh are set to be exempted from the need for a warrant of fitness as they spend most of their life off-road.
The Government says the changes will reduce compliance costs while still ensuring safety.
Federated Farmers transport spokesman Ian Mackenzie said the proposals being put to the public for inclusion in land transport rules were common sense.
He said the federation had been working on them with the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) since their revision last year.
'These changes will make compliance on agricultural vehicles straightforward and easy to understand. MOT estimates the package of changes will deliver a net benefit of $51m and, importantly, is unlikely to have any adverse affect on safety."
A review last year into the laws regulating 40,000 registered agricultural vehicles was made in response to farmer concerns that the laws did not take into account their special nature or the demands of agricultural production.
Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the Government had considered submissions as well as research into crashes and overseas approaches to agree to make changes.
Safety would remain a key factor, he said.
A two tier system will be based on a 40kmh operating speed with vehicles below this speed exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements.
Car licence holders will be able to drive a greater range of agricultural vehicles once they prove they have the skills and the rules on pilot vehicles, work time variation schemes, hazard identification and vehicle visibility will be improved. This endorsement class is likely to be implemented after next year's review of the driver licensing schedule.
Agricultural vehicles will be required to use a flashing amber beacon. The rules fit in with the needs of farmers and contractors working long hours during harvesting and seasonal peaks.
Mackenzie said farmers and contractors wanted to reduce compliance costs and red tape, but nobody wanted the review to compromise road safety.
The federation believed this had been achieved, he said.
'We will look at the proposed changes in greater detail and will continue to engage with the MOT and NZTA over how these will work in practice, but we are very optimistic that these new rules will be generally beneficial."
Mackenzie said any vehicle operating on the road needed to be safe and the public could be confident this would be the case for agricultural vehicles.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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