It’s legal to drive a tractor and trailer on the motorway (but there’s a catch!)

If you are driving your tractor on the motorway and towing a trailer, the trailer must be capable by design of being drawn at a speed of 50km/h or higher, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has confirmed.

Tractors can be driven on the motorway in the Republic of Ireland, providing that the tractor is capable of reaching a minimum speed of 50km/h.

Since January 1, 2016, both tractors and trailers are required to be fitted with a speed disc indicating their design speed.

However, if you’re towing a trailer you must drive at the right speed and the maximum legal speed limit for a vehicle towing a trailer is 80km/h.

The RSA advises all road users to ensure your load is evenly distributed to reduce the chance of the trailer swaying, especially in high winds or when large vehicles overtake you.

Furthermore, you’re not allowed use the outside lane of the motorway if you’re towing a trailer or a horsebox.

Meanwhile, a recent Agriland poll found that some 61% of farmers have never driven their tractor on the motorway.

tractor motorway poll

Under the revised legislation that came into effect in January, agricultural vehicles will be required to meet a number of standards in relation to braking, suspension systems, tyres and lighting.

A summary of these standards is as follows:

  • Braking – More powerful braking systems will be required for agricultural vehicles operating at speeds in excess of 40km/h.
  • Lighting and visibility – Agricultural vehicles will need to be equipped with appropriate lighting systems, flashing amber beacons and reflective markings.
  • Weights, dimensions and coupling – New national weight limits are being introduced which will allow unplated tractor and trailer combinations to continue at limits which are safe.
  • Plated tractor and trailer combinations will benefit from being able to operate at higher weight limits of up to 24 and 34 tonnes for tandem and tri-axle agricultural trailers, but these have to meet certain requirements.
  • Exemptions are provided for certain types of interchangeable towed equipment such as slurry tankers and manure and fertiliser spreaders.
  • Plating and speed rating – Trailers operating at weights in excess of 19t or speed ratings exceeding 40km/h will require fitting of both an authorisation plate and a speed disc.

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