Safer on-road use for oversize machines

There is hope that proposed changes to VicRoads regulations will lead to safer use of oversize agricultural machines on Victorian roads. Source: The Weekly times

The rules dictate size limits for agricultural vehicles using the roads, including what type of vehicle and what it was towing, the height, rear overhang and width.

But the Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia said machines are outgrowing the regulations.

“The regulations have not been keeping pace with the changing dimensions of agricultural equipment,” said TMA executive director Gary Northover.

He said there was also confusion about what rules apply in which circumstances.

“There have been too many examples of the rules not being understood or observed, so safety has been compromised,” he said.

“There have been instances whereby, because of confusion, people have taken a punt and there’s not been a strong level of communication through the industry on what the rules are.”

The regulations differ depending on factors such as the type of machine and where it is being used. Even within Victoria there are different regulations for different regions.

The TMA and Victorian Farmers Federation have been working with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and VicRoads to bring meaningful changes to the regulations, with final recommendations submitted last week.

“To facilitate the growth in the movement of grain and agriculture in Victoria, we are updating these regulations to ensure that the equipment is being used safely, and ensure the safety for other road users,” said VicRoads director of heavy vehicle services Eric Henderson.

He said harvesters in particular were now “significantly bigger” and many implements such as sprayers and augers that need to be towed were “coming in sizes that are bigger than we’ve seen before”.

Mr Northover said he hoped the VicRoads’ example might be adopted in other states to achieve uniformity.

“So what we are seeing here is not only a new set of rules, but an opportunity to also say ‘OK here are the rules everybody’, and make them much more publicly available, much more easily understood and that’s got to lead to a safer operation,” he said.