Muck spreading tractor

Young tractor drivers – are you up to date with the rules?

Tractors are an essential part of farming, but the rules around young tractor drivers aren’t always well-known. Claire Longman, Underwriting Leader at Cornish Mutual, covers the key legislation for driving tractors.

“Young farmers can be a great help on the farm when driving a tractor, but if you aren’t aware of the licensing conditions, there is a risk of invalidating your tractor insurance in the event of an accident and of inadvertently breaking the law as well.”

“At a basic level, the minimum age for driving a tractor on a public road is 16, for which a category F licence is needed – you are automatically entitled to this if you have a category B (car) licence. Tracked vehicles, like some tractors and excavators, need a category H licence; you have to be over 21 and already have a car licence in order to take the test for a category H licence”, says Claire.

The width and type of tractor can also affect who is allowed to drive it – 16-year-olds are only permitted to drive tractors under 2.45 metres in width and tow trailers under 2.45 metres wide with two wheels, or with four close-coupled wheels.

“There is a greater range of options for 17-year-olds, as provided that the vehicle doesn’t have tracks, there are no limits on tractor or trailer widths.

“There are a number of farming vehicles that aren’t classed as tractors, such as combine harvesters, vegetable pickers and sprayers”, adds Claire. “This means 17-year-olds can drive vehicles of this kind weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, 18-year-olds can drive vehicles between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes, and 21-year-olds don’t face any limits on the weight of vehicles they can drive.”

Ensuring that young vehicle drivers comply with the rules is good working practice on the farm. It will also ensure that farmers and young drivers do not risk prosecution by the police, or accidentally invalidate their insurance by allowing a young driver to drive a vehicle on a public highway when this is not permitted.

Click for more farm safety articles and our Safety on the Farm guide.