Proposed changes to the land transport rules for agricultural vehicle operators are a vast improvement on the current regulations. Federated Farmers is supportive of most of the changes which will reduce farmer compliance costs, without compromising road safety.
The agricultural transport review was instigated after the Federation approached former Associate Transport Minister, Nathan Guy, in 2010 with concerns over the complexity of the regulations.
All agricultural vehicles, such as tractors and combine harvesters, must be registered when used on the roads. From May 1 the current EB license category for agricultural vehicles raises the maximum speed from 30km/h to 40km/h.
Operators with agricultural vehicles who opt to go no faster than 40km/h will pay reduced licensing fees excluding the ACC motor levy, will not need a WOF or to pay Road User Charges (RUC) or to comply with the Work Time Rule.
Agricultural motor vehicles, excluding utes, quad bikes and trucks, licensed to go over 40km/h will be required to pay the ACC motor levy and RUC and get a simplified annual WOF. They will also be required to comply with the Work Time Rule.
Operators who work seasonally will now be able to apply for an alternative fatigue management system.
An alternative hazard panels has also been proposed and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) intends to make amber beacons mandatory for agricultural vehicles registered for the first time after or on May 1, 2013. The forward distance permitted has been extended from 3 metres to 4 metres reflecting the increase in size of modern agricultural vehicles.
The new rules will also allow the holder of an overseas agricultural vehicle license, from countries such as the European Union nations, Canada and the United States, to operate an equivalent vehicle in New Zealand. People who hold a class 1 licence will be able to operate more agricultural vehicles.
While Federated Farmers is highly supportive of the changes, we have recommended NZTA make some minor amendments before the rules are signed into law.
If all goes to plan, the changes will come into play on May 1 of this year. Both Federated Farmers and NZTA will notify the Federation's members of the final changes.