The European Commission’s plan to make ABS systems obligatory for tractors between 40kph and 60kph must be shelved, according to CEMA, the European agricultural machinery body.

It says that in the EU, tractors capable of driving at speeds of more than 60kph have been required to have Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) installed since 2016.

The question the EU now needs to decide on is whether ABS should be made mandatory for tractors with maximum design speeds between 40kph and 60kph by 2020-2021.

According to CEMA, the available evidence shows that the main cause for tractor accidents is not a lack of braking performance.

The two prime causes of recorded accidents are low speed (compared to other road vehicles) and low visibility.

In addition, it says, prior analysis has clearly demonstrated that ABS would not help to improve road safety in any statistically significant way.

In fact, with an average fleet renewal rate of 1.7% of total EU-28 tractor sales, it would take more than 20 years before the first fatal accident could statistically be avoided.

By contrast, improving, for instance, the lighting and signalling of Europe’s entire tractor fleet could prevent up to 70 fatal accidents each year, the body states.

CEMA also states that the average tractor does not warrant the need for ABS as standard, as the majority spend most of their time off-highways – as they are not Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) or cars.

How much would an ABS system cost farmers?

Due to the necessary adaptations and testing procedures, effective overall cost increase for farmers and agricultural contractors to buy tractors with ABS could range from 2% to up to 10% of the vehicle’s price and reach up to €5,000 per machine, it says.

A technology such as mandatory ABS on tractors, which does not deliver statistically significant benefits while exerting a significant cost burden on farmers’ bottom line, is unacceptable, the agricultural machinery body states.

This is particularly the case in light of the current farm crisis and when better, proven and cost-effective solutions are available.

In light of this, the commission’s plans to make ABS systems obligatory for tractors between 40kph and 60kph need to be abandoned, it says.