Consultation on the maximum speed limit for tractors on public roads

About this consultation

An Independent report from the Farming Regulation Taskforce was published in May 2011 and included recommendations that the Government examine the maximum speed of tractors.


The maximum speed limit for conventional tractors with or without a trailer is currently 40mph, as set out in the Road Traffic Regulation Act2. However, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 19863 (the “C&U Regs”) set out certain technical requirements for tractors and requires those that are driven above 20mph to meet certain requirements, including the fitment of brakes meeting truck standards, including Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

Most tractors do not comply with these requirements so legally can only be used at speeds up to and including 20mph. The report noted that some stakeholders perceive the current restrictions imposed by these technical requirements (set in 1984) to be outdated and that an alteration to the speed restriction, raising it above 20mph, would maintain or improve road safety.

Similarly, the report stated that the restriction does not reflect the capabilities of modern farm machinery, forcing farmers to drive unnecessarily slowly on public roads.

This is said to cause unnecessary delay for farmers and is a nuisance to other road users. In other European Union (EU) member states conventional tractors can operate at 25mph (40km/h), and this suggests there might be a competitiveness issue where drivers in the rest of the EU can drive faster than UK tractor drivers.

The consultation is seeking views on: 

  1. Your preferred option on speed limits for tractors
  2. The balance of costs and savings
  3. Road safety costs
  4. Implementation costs
  5. Non-compliance
  6. Impacts on road wear and tear
  7. Fuel consumption
  8. The impact on small firms

Proposed changes

Further information about this consultation can be found at:

Consultation questions

Please provide some comments to support your answer and include any alternative proposals you may have. 

  1. Option 1: Do nothing – this means not changing the speed limit of 20mph. Please explain your answer.
  2. Option 2: Increase the speed limit to 25mph (40km/h). This is currently the speed limit in some other EU countries. Please explain your answer.
  3. Would you suggest a different speed limit? Please specify your preference and explain your answer.
  4. Do you have any experience or expectations of the balance of savings and costs of different the different speed limits.
  5. Please provide any evidence on the frequency or severity of collisions on public roads involving conventional tractors which can only be driven at 20mph or less because they do not comply with the necessary regulations to drive any quicker, and whether an increase in this restricted speed on these roads would have an effect on road safety and other road users.
  6. Please provide any evidence on what effects if any the policy will have on road wear and tear and road maintenance requirements.
  7. Do you think there will be a direct transition cost of implementation which government or the private sector will incur as a result of the change to the speed restriction?
  8. Please provide any evidence or figures you may have.
  9. Please provide any evidence on the impact of this proposal on fuel consumption.
  10. How do you think the proposals will impact on small firms?
  11. Do you think that an increased speed limit would lead to a shift from other modes of haulage into agricultural haulage?
  12. Please provide any evidence you may have on the number of drivers of conventional tractors who fail to comply with the 20mph speed limit.
  13. Do you think that all of the potential costs and benefits of the policy options have been considered in the Impact Assessment?
  14. Please provide details if you think costs or benefits have not been included.
  15. Do you think there is any need to review the speeds that agricultural motor vehicles other than tractors (e.g. combine harvesters) are subject to? If so, please provide your suggestions or comments. 

We welcome comments on any aspect of the issues raised in this document.

Please consider the consultation questions below and send any comments you may have to by 14th January 2014.