A man in his mid-30s was taken to hospital on Saturday last, April 2, after the vehicle he was driving crashed into the back of a trailer carrying hay bales in Co. Clare.

The accident happened around 11.45am near the junction 10 exit for Newmarket on Fergus on the M18.

A Garda spokesperson said that the vehicle towing the hay bales got hit from behind and two bales fell from the trailer.

The spokesperson said that the driver in his 30s was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Earlier this year new rules came into force around revised standards for agricultural vehicles, mainly tractors.

According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the changes have been made as the current regulations have been in place for more than half a century, during which time vehicles have become bigger, faster and more powerful.

New rules around the weights, dimensions and coupling of trailers came into effect, including:

  • New national weight limits were 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 24t and 34t 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.

The RSA said that some trailers may need remedial work, if they are intended to be used at higher weights or speeds of more than 40km/h.

Those who breach the new regulations may face a direct summons to court, whereby on conviction a class C fine of up to €2,500 may be imposed.

Along with facing a fine, offenders could also face a prison sentence.