Changes to the transport laws regulating the on-road use of agricultural vehicles such as tractors and combine harvesters came into effect on 1 June 2013 (except for a change to the warrant of fitness inspection frequency, which will take effect on 11 November 2013).
About the changes
The changes are designed to align driver licensing, work time restrictions and vehicle inspection requirements for agricultural vehicles used on-road to a two-tier system depending on whether or not the vehicle exceeds a 40km/h operating speed.
Agricultural vehicles not exceeding 40 km/h are exempt from warrant of fitness requirements, but still need to be maintained in a roadworthy condition. These vehicles can be driven by holders of a restricted car licence, and are exempt from work time requirements.
From 11 November 2013, Agricultural vehicles that exceed 40 km/h will need to obtain an annual warrant of fitness, and would need to be driven by the holder of an agricultural endorsement or Class 2 licence.
Car licence holders with an agricultural endorsement will be able to drive a greater range of agricultural vehicles once they prove they have the skills to do so.
In the interim, the wheels endorsement will be widened to serve the same purpose as the agricultural endorsement. The agricultural endorsement itself will be implemented once the review of driver licensing schedule for next year is complete and the status of endorsements is clarified.
Agricultural vehicles registered from 1 June 2013 are required to use a flashing amber beacon when operating on-road, to alert other road users to their presence.
Other changes have improved and simplied the rules around pilot vehicles, work time variation schemes, hazard identification and vehicle visibility. More information about these changes is available in the questions and answers document(external link).
Some changes affecting agricultural vehicles have also been made as part of Road User Charges regulation changes.
These changes are the result of a review of the law regulating agricultural vehicles led by the Ministry, with input from the NZ Transport Agency, NZ Police and the Department of Labour.
Consultation on a Ministry position paper which set out potential areas for change occurred in April and May 2012. The Ministry received 43 submissions from individual farmers, contractors, and road users as well as the agricultural industry, road transport and organisations representing road users.
In August 2012, Cabinet agreed to progress a number of actions to improve the regulation of agricultural vehicles. The NZ Transport Agency consulted on the Land Transport Rule: Agricultural Vehicle Omnibus 2012, with submissions closing on Friday 30 November 2012.