Friday, June 11, 2010

Road Freight Representatives Slate Dangerous Haulage Practices

Irish Tractors Dice With Death On The Motorways
Shipping News Feature

IRELAND – There is no doubt that one of the national characteristics, for which the country is much admired, include a sometimes ‘off beat’ attitude to rules and regulations. Now the Irish Road Haulage Association has pointed out a serious situation arising from a quirk regarding the haulage of trailers on the country’s roads disallowed in any other European Union state.

Agricultural tractors are frequently utilised to haul heavy goods trailers around the country, astonishingly even on the country’s motorways. What is even more incredible in a catalogue of inefficient regulations is that drivers are often as young as sixteen working with no requirements to conform to the EU tachograph legislation governing hours of service and rest periods. Additionally the Association has established that many of these vehicles are being hired by County Councils to carry out work even though the use of these vehicles for such purposes is a clear breach of road transport licensing regulations.

Despite representations made directly to the Department of Transport the Association says the Government has also chosen to ignore the impact that this practice is having on hauliers who accept the costs and responsibilities of complying with legislative and safety standards not to mention the risks involved when inexperienced drivers are put in charge of huge loads with little or no proper control.

“The use of tractors as haulage vehicles is not permitted in any other EU country and there is good reason for that. Tractors are off road vehicles and are not designed or constructed to haul heavy loads of materials on public roads,” said Mr. Vincent Caulfield, President of the Association.

“These vehicles can gross up to 35 tonne and more yet Irish law permits anyone who is 16 years of age to drive one without any formal training. Every HGV on the road is subject to stringent weight restrictions and an annual road test but tractors can haul any load without adhering to the same safety requirements,” he added.

“The law does not permit tractors to use the motorway but our members are witnessing daily occurrences where drivers of these vehicles flaunt the law without fear of prosecution by An Garda Siochana. It has gotten to a point where we could catalogue such incidents,”

Mr. Caulfield continued. “The Government needs to think beyond the farming vote and to give priority to safeguarding Irish motorists whose lives are being put at risk by the use of such vehicles on public roads. The hour for action has long since passed and explanations will count for nothing if a tragedy occurs,” he concluded.