The law today is found in the Prevention of Accidents to Children in Agriculture Regulations 1998. Under these regulations, it is illegal for children under the age of 13 years to either drive or ride on any all agricultural machines including tractors, combines, sprayers, telehandlers and ATVs.
Farm use vs road use
The rules apply both to on-farm use and also to road use and whether there is a passenger seat or not.
If it's an agricultural vehicle, children under 13 years are prohibited from driving or riding in it. The prohibition is total – farm yard, field and road.
Children aged 13 to 16
Children over 13 years and up to the age of 16 are only allowed to use a low-powered tractor either on its own or with a trailed roller or harrow.
Appropriate training must be given, see Tractor Driving 13-15 Years Old - Lantra (also check out your nearest rural college).
All other types of trailer, powered equipment – anything with cutting, splitting or crushing mechanisms is not allowed.
Chemical applicators whether mounted or trailed, are also not allowed.
Children over 13 years are both physically and mentally immature and still very much developing. Serious thought must be given as to whether any child between the ages of 13 and 16 should be allowed to drive even a low powered tractor. If they are allowed to drive low powered tractors they must:
- be properly trained
- have the physical capability to drive the machine
- be strictly monitored and supervised
- carry no other child or young person on the tractor
- never drive when other people are close by.
Children over 16
At age 16 a person with a category F licence is restricted to driving an agricultural tractor with a maximum width of 2.45m. This width restriction applies to both the tractor and the trailer with either a single axle or close coupled double axle.
Children aged 17 can drive on roads with a Cat B driving licence with no restrictions.
Risk of death or injury
Every year children are killed and seriously injured in incidents involving farm vehicles.
Everybody understands that keeping vulnerable children safe is paramount and the best way to stop deaths and serious injuries is to keep children and farm machinery apart.
More information and advice
If you have questions about farm safety contact CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.