Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Road Haulage Sector Decries Agricultural Tractors Pulling Freight Trailers

IRHA Disgusted by Safety Agency Proposals for Hire and Reward
Shipping News Feature

IRELAND – The latest proposals from the Road Safety Agency (RSA) to the Department of Transport regarding the use of agricultural tractors as licensed hire and reward road haulage vehicles has met with howls of protest from freight interests, not least the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) whose President Eoin Gavin commented:

“The proposals submitted by the RSA to the Department are anti-competitive and will grossly distort the licensed road haulage sector. How an agency tasked with road safety can justifiably propose that vehicles designed primarily for off road use should be licensed to compete with HGV’s on the public road defies logic.

“We have found Minister Varadkar to be very practical in our dealings with him to date and we urge the Minister to reject the RSA’s proposals which will result in numerous family owned operations going out of business if these proposals come to pass”.

One only has to read our last article on this issue to realise how bonkers some of the actions of those owning these ‘road worthy’ vehicles can be. In a country where the safety website recommends that drivers unfamiliar with roundabouts should volunteer to undertake private driving lessons to familiarise themselves the thought that notoriously dangerous equipment might undertake more haulage of trailers seems to many incredible.

In 2008 the RSA commissioned a report ‘with a view to developing policy proposals for consideration by the Minister for Transport to appropriately regulate this sector (agricultural tractors) going forward and in particular to maximise road safety.’ According to the RSA website from August all vehicles must be fitted with daytime running lights, useful for fog, heavy rain etc. but agricultural tractors, one of the slowest moving vehicles and, as such, one of the most dangerous in such circumstances, will be exempt.

Cynics would say that allowing tractor owners on the road as licensed hauliers will legitimise the current practise whereby local authorities apparently regularly hire agricultural tractors to work as hauliers on their behalf which the IRHA has criticised in the past.

No comment was available as yet from the RSA as to the precise nature of their advice to the Department of Transport but this will be added when any word is received. (See Editor's Note Below)