Road Safety Week 2023 – Tractors and ATVs

Are there any topics more hotly debated than which tractor is the best? And let’s not get started on quads vs mules. But, whether you are a John Deere diehard, a massive Massey fan, or like to crack on about Case (other brands are available), it’s important to understand who can use farm vehicles, and when.

Continuing our series of top tips for Brake’s annual Road Safety Week 2023, we thought it would be helpful to look at the dos and don’ts when it comes to your vehicles …

What’s in a number?

Quadbikes have become an essential piece of kit for many farms, and it often feels like we would be lost without them. They make moving about, checking stock, and carrying out simple jobs easier and faster. But it’s important to remember that they are still governed by regulation.

Any quad used for agriculture, horticulture, or forestry must be registered as a light agricultural vehicle. Quads used on public roads must also be licenced and registered for road use, have third party insurance, and number plates, and if used after dark, they must also have working lights. If you are in Northern Ireland, the law now requires you to wear a helmet on a quad – you could face a £500 fine if you don’t.

Drivers must be at least 17-years-old and hold a category B licence if using a quad on the road. However, if a quad has an unladen weight of less that 550kg then it can be driven on a category B1 licence, so long as the driver is still aged 17 or above.

Tractors are also subject to a number of restrictions, especially for younger drivers. If you’re driving a tractor on a public road, you must have a category F licence – but don’t worry, if you have a car licence (category B) you automatically have category F too.

Category F licences can be held from the age of 16, however, 16-year-olds face width limits and can only drive tractors up to 2.45 metres wide. This restriction also applies when towing; drivers aged 16 can only tow trailers up to 2.45 meters in width and with two wheels or four close-coupled wheels.

All on board

How many times have we seen quads bouncing along with someone perched on the back tightly holding on to the bale rack or sharing the driver’s seat? Quadbikes cannot, and should not, carry passengers. NO excuses.

The law states that quadbikes used as light agricultural vehicles should only have a driver’s seat and cannot carry passengers under any circumstances. So, while they will normally have a long seat, this is to allow the driver to move their position and body weight to adjust to different terrains and conditions, not to allow space for a passenger.

Side-by-side ATVs will usually have an additional seat for a passenger and occasionally a second row of seating. They’re great for two-person jobs, but can come with additional complications so it’s important when using these vehicles to think about how the number of occupants may affect the handling and balance of the ATV, especially when used off-road.

Modern tractors often come with a properly fitted passenger seat and it’s lovely to have company during the many hours of harvest or drilling. But remember it is illegal for children under the age of 13 to drive or ride on a tractor, and they must not be carried as passengers, even on the passenger seat.

Sharing our roads

Let’s be honest, whether you’re driving a tractor or a car, or riding a bike or a horse, sharing the road with other users can be frustrating.

But did you know that The Highway Code section 169 actually specifies that you should not hold up a long queue of traffic, “especially if you are driving a large or slow-moving vehicle,”?

Failing to pull over can be considered an offence for ‘inconsiderate driving’, carrying with it a potentially hefty fine and penalty points.

Of course, you should only pull over when it is safe to do so. Familiarising yourself with your route is a useful way to identify suitable laybys and other areas.

To learn more visit:

Tractors and regulatory requirements: a brief guide September 2017 – GOV.UK (

Quad bikes: the rules – GOV.UK (

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), Quad bikes and side-by-side utility vehicles – Agriculture – HSE

Travelling with a tractor with front-mounted attachment – Agriculture – HSE

Using the road – Overtaking (162 to 169) – THE HIGHWAY CODE (

stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Road Safety Week 2023 – Tractors and ATVs

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