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Proposed changes to agricultural vehicle rules

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is inviting the agricultural sector to have its say on proposed changes to transport regulation for agricultural vehicles.

“Last year the government announced the need to ensure these rules were protecting safety without imposing unnecessary red tape,” Mr Brownlee said.

“The Ministry of Transport, Police, the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Department of Labour have looked at whether the current rules properly take account of the realities facing the industry and how they compare to those in other developed countries.

“This review team has now come up with a series of proposals that would simplify current speed limits for agricultural vehicles used on the road and align requirements for vehicle registration, licensing, inspection and road user charges around a simple 40 km/h threshold.

“The proposed 40km limit is one way of ensuring agricultural vehicles do not pose a road safety risk.”

Agricultural vehicles licensed to operate at up to 40 km/h would be exempt from licence fees, periodic inspection and road user charges, but would still be required to be registered and in a road worthy condition.

These vehicles would have to display ‘40’ sign clearly visible to the rear so enforcement would be straightforward.  Agricultural vehicles operated over 40 km/h would be required to have a G (general purpose) license, pay road user charges and hold a simplified annual warrant of fitness.

The driver licence regime for drivers of agricultural vehicles would also be simplified.  One proposal would allow drivers with a Class 1 car licence to operate some agricultural vehicles on the road up to 40km/h.  A new agricultural endorsement would also allow some vehicles currently requiring a Class 2 licence to be driven on a Class 1 licence.  This would make it easier for workers to drive a wider range of specialist vehicles on the road while still maintaining safety.

“A key benefit of the driver licence changes is that vehicles operated by Class 1 licensed drivers are not subject to work time requirements.  This would help contractors and farmers who often need to work long or irregular hours during harvest, and who also need to work around the weather.

“The proposed changes should improve safety, reduce compliance costs for industry and make the law easier to understand and enforce.  However, it is important that people have their say before they are progressed.

“I urge anyone with an interest to take this opportunity to share their views on how we can ensure that our agricultural land transport regulation is doing its job properly – keeping us safe and managing any impacts on our infrastructure without unnecessary red tape,” Mr Brownlee said.

A position paper setting out the proposed changes as well as information on how to make a submission is available on the Ministry of Transport website: www.transport.govt.nz.

The Ministry will also be holding a series of industry workshops in Ashburton, Invercargill, Hamilton, Hastings, and Palmerston North in late April and early May.  Further details are available on the Ministry website.

23 April 2012

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