Senator Tim Lombard’s call to review tractor driving licences has been welcomed by the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland’s national chairman, Richard White.
The FCI said has already sought a meeting with Minister for State for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon TD and would also welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with Senator Lombard.
“FCI, as part of CEETTAR, the European Organisation of Agricultural, Rural and Forestry Contractors, FCI has led the call for a European tractor driving licence among CEETTAR members, to improve safety standards as well as allowing young people with tractor skills to avail of equal employment opportunities and experiences across farm contracting business throughout Europe,” White added.
“FCI believes that young tractor drivers have an important role to play in the farm contractor sector in Ireland where they bring skills, energy and enthusiasm to a €700 million per annum farm contracting service that drives Irish agriculture through the use of modern and efficient mechanisation systems.”
“Farm contractors in Ireland have invested in modern and safe tractors and machinery while working to nurture the skills of young people so that they become safe and responsible users of farm machinery,” he added.
“While the latest farm fatality statistics are indeed alarming and remain a cause for national concern, the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) evidence clearly shows that unfortunately many older farmers, rather than young tractor drivers, are the tragic victims of fatal farm accidents.”
Efforts to improve standards of road safety
The association said it has worked with the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Road Traffic Corps to help improve standards of road safety when it comes to operating agricultural tractors and machinery on the public roads.
“It is disappointing that Senator Lombard has targeted young people working in rural-based farm contracting operations with his comments.”
“The road accident reports, other than social media comment, show that the relatively low levels of tractor-related road accidents confirms that the farm contractor sector is one that accepts its responsibility when it comes to training young drivers, who start their careers with a learner permit,” White concluded.