Driving The Big Kit.

Discussion in 'Agricultural Matters' started by Cab-over Pete, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Aye-up,

    We often hear about how we need to attract good young people into our industry and I think we might be missing a trick.

    If any young driver likes the look of driving farm machines they can take the tractor test aged 16 and, in theory, they’re away.

    The trouble is, that licence has many restrictions and really only the smallest tractors and trailers can be driven on the road. At 17 the driver can suddenly drive bigger kit on the road, but machines not classed as tractors such as combines, sp sprayers and the big units like beet harvesters and sp spreaders are not to be driven on the roads until the driver is 21. I think loading shovels and telehandlers come under the same rules too, certainly some of the bigger units.

    Meanwhile, if a young driver is itching to get out and about in something impressive, he or she can take a commercial vehicle driving test at, I think, 18 years of age and then quickly progress up to driving 44t artics at 19 years. I may have that slightly wrong, but it’s something like that.

    I’m bothered that during those impressionable 2-3 years young drivers are being attracted to the haulage business and may stay there, depriving our industry of the future operators we need.

    There must have been a push from haulage associations to get young drivers interested in the job and to get them earning some good money at a very young age. When I took my HGV test 26 years ago there was some sort of scheme starting up and I was told recently that the construction industry has something similar too.

    I know I have missed out on two very good lads over the years because they can’t drive my spreaders on the road until they are 21 so they went and found work elsewhere.

    What can be done to get a scheme up and running to get young drivers going? Maybe an intensive weeks training and a test at 18? Proof that young operators have been involved in farming all their lives so are already familiar with the kit?

    I realise it will take a change in the law, but as time goes by kit gets bigger, farms get more spread out and contractors work further afield.

    We are getting left behind. Again.

    Cheers, Pete.
    chaffcutter likes this.
  2. pappuller

    pappuller Member

    We have this predicament soon our son is 16 in a mnth and getting set for his tractor test, but if he passes he cant legally drive our main tractor on the road as it is too wide until he is 17
  3. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    I think we need to do the opposite really

    IMO anyone under 21 lacks the maturity to drive big farm kit on the road (as is often seen in accident as it nearly always seems to be a young lad involved) I'm generalizing but the fly about flat out on phones all day and eventually it ends badly for many

    We either need HGV style testing or a increase in age limit to drive the big / dangerous stuff
  4. err, here, you need a car licence ( 17 ) to drive a tractor on the road . . .

    I cant believe it can be legal to drive a tractor on the road, but not a car . . .
  5. Davey

    Davey Member


    I tend to agree but why do we see so many accidents involving young drivers of tractors but not HGVs?

    Is the test or operating conditions stricter?
    Is it simply down to the number of young drivers in each industry?
    Maybe its just the reporting of said accidents?
    Or is it the fact that ag kit is harder to manage on the road (because that's not really what it is designed for) and so greater care has to be taken, which sadly younger drivers forget?
    Kiwi Pete and Farmer Roy like this.
  6. Whilst no driver is perfect I dare say many accidents occur because of defective brakes or general poor maintenance of farm kit.

    Trucks are maintained better in most cases I think which rolls on to better safety records.
  7. Clive

    Clive Staff Member


    the difference is to drive a HGV a difficult test must be passed, anyone can get into a tractor though
  8. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    and this ^

  9. That’s my original point. Can we get younger drivers on the road after passing a stringent and intensive course?
  10. Davey

    Davey Member

    Not having a HGV license and being so old I never sat a specific tractor test that makes sense.
  11. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    I think some sort of testing rally needs to be bought in - especially for younger people where maturity and experience clearly can contribute to safety significantly
    It's crazy that there is no specific test to take a 30t plus machine on the road
  12. Davey

    Davey Member

    That would certainly seem like the most common sense approach but sadly there is nothing common about sense.

    I had a lad (early 20s) bailing for me a couple of years ago (worked on other local farms and certainly knew his way around a conventional baler) complain that the PUH kept coming down on the tractor.

    Turns out he didn't know he had to lift it all the way up to engage the locking hooks!
  13. Princess Pooper

    East Mids
    That is down to lack of training not lack of common sense.
    theboytheboy, Courier and MattR like this.
  14. Princess Pooper

    East Mids
    I think two reasons that there are the agricultural accidents on the road involving youngsters include:
    they are often part of a team/gang hauling silage/muck/corn/maize etc, lots of boring, repetitive round trips and as part of a gang greater temptation to start playing on the phone, racing and generally messing around.
    Ag tractors - even fast tracs - go relatively slowly (even when being driven by a bat out of hell) so they do tend to get bumped up the @rse or idiots overtaking etc - these accident not necessarily the tractor operators fault. I do think it is crazy that someone not long passed their test can take some pretty big (heavy and wide) kit out on the road without extra testing. I know one lad who really scared himself working for a contractor and having to drive big kit through villages etc and he quit as he felt he did not have enough road experience even after passing his test (he had been driving tractors for a few years).
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  15. Wellytrack

    Wellytrack Member

    I’m not so sure about that, whilst I agree it’s infuriating watching youngsters faffing about on facechat or what have you, there are plenty of ‘operators’ in their 50-60’s I can think on that are scarily dangerous.

    They have ‘seen it all’ and can’t be fecking arsed to restrap that load, pin that drawbar back, indicate, stop an engine, remove a drive shaft, apply a brake, trig a load etc etc.. In other words careless through bravado and complacency.

    To say anyone under 21 lacks maturity or capability to operate large machines is an over generalisation in my view.
    Simon Chiles, mo! and joe soapy like this.
  16. Could we not say all these things about HGV drivers under 21 though?

    They too could be texting whilst driving or driving like a loon.

    My point is should we be giving young operators the chance to get going before they go and do something else?

    What they do once legal on the road is never going to be controlled by anybody, but that’s the case for everybody no matter what job they do.
    Wellytrack likes this.
  17. Gulli

    Gulli Member

    Most hgvs will have cameras in their cabs. Using a mobile while driving is a sackable offence?
    Haulage companies have much stricter rules regarding driving etc. Than the ag world. Also they aren't doing the hours behind the wheel as they aren't allowed 16/18 hour days on silage without a proper break arent that uncommon.
    The rules need a revamp but the vast majority of the ag world gets uptight about that kind of thing
    Kiwi Pete and ollie989898 like this.
  18. Sid

    Sid Member

    South Molton
    Lad drives past me nearly everyday to,from and during work on the phone texting. Should I tell his boss? Should I tell him?
    To be fair he should know better as he has just qualified as a retained firefighter.
    Maybe I will ask him a question. Well done for passing to be a retained. Have you been to a RTC where the driver was using their phone yet? Don't let your RTC be the first and last one you go to!
  19. Hilly

    Hilly Member

    Scottish Borders.
    Truck driver will earn double what a farm worker can earn who can blame them.
  20. Gulli

    Gulli Member

    Yes you should.
    You'll be pretty grumpy if the last thing you think as he drives over you is 'wish I'd said something about him being on the phone'
    Cab-over Pete likes this.

Share This Page