When, if ever, is an escort vehicle needed for wide agri machines?

Yesterday, Thursday, June 27, we brought you a report setting out the maximum legal road-going widths for various types of agricultural vehicles.

Also Read: How wide can you go on the road…and stay within the law?

Guidance from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), for example, stipulates a maximum road-going width of 2.55m for an “agricultural tractor”. However, the allowable road-going width increases to 3.5m in the case of “self-propelled agricultural machinery”.

Escort vehicle

But what happens in a scenario where agricultural vehicles are wider than 3.5m? Further guidance from the RSA stipulates that “self-propelled agricultural machinery can be wider than 3.5m so long as, when travelling on public roads, it has an escort vehicle”.

The RSA goes on to say: “The escort vehicle must drive in front, use dipped headlights and carry working flashing amber beacons and a Caution – Wide Load Following sign.

Image source: Shane Casey

“The machinery being escorted must also carry flashing amber beacons – one of which must be visible to the rear – and display a Wide Load sign to the rear.”

Interesting observation

The stipulations above indicate that, for example, a self-propelled forage harvester (with, say, a road-going width of 3.2m) can legally be driven on a public road (without an escort vehicle).

However, if the same machine was to be loaded on to an articulated truck / low-loader (a HCV – Heavy Commercial Vehicle – to use the current terminology), the truck would require an Abnormal Load permit. That’s because such permits are needed where a HCV’s road-going width exceeds 2.9m.

Agricultural vehicle widths

With regard to the array of maximum road-going widths for agricultural vehicles (where an escort vehicle is not a legal requirement), this info-graphic (below) from the RSA shows the relevant data.

Source: RSA