Wide Vehicles - What are the Rules?

NFU transport expert Tom Price provides reminders on the wide vehicle rules, the speed limits for agricultural vehicles and when you might need to notify the police before going out on the road.

In general terms vehicles more than three metres in width are classed as wide vehicles. There are rules on the movement of wide vehicles on the road that farmers should know and follow.


The legal speed limit for agricultural vehicles varies according to vehicle type and width:

Only tractors measuring no more than 2.55m in width can travel up to 40kmh (approx. 25 mph) Tractors over 2.55m but less than 3.5m in width have a maximum legal speed of 20 mph All other agricultural machines less than 3.5 m in width have a maximum legal speed limit of 20 mph (e.g. sprayers, telehandlers etc.). All agricultural vehicles 3.5 m to 4.3m in width have a maximum legal speed limit of 12 mph.

Police notification
The general rule is that the police should be notified of vehicle movements when vehicles are:

  • Over 3 m in width

  • Travelling on roads with a speed limit of 40 mph or less

  • Travelling distances over 5 miles

Attendants are needed when vehicles over 3.5 m in width are travelling on the road.

How to notify the police?
According to the legislation police forces should be given at least 24 hours’ notice of wide vehicle movements. Most police forces thankfully operate an annual dispensation scheme for the movement of wide agricultural vehicles on road otherwise they would soon be overwhelmed by calls!

This means that a farmer applies once a year with details of all their wide vehicles and the areas in which they intend to travel. The police usually issue a dispensation covering all an applicant’s wide vehicles.

Members should contact the Abnormal Loads officer of their local constabulary for details on how to apply for a dispensation for their area.

When a dispensation is issued it is essential to keep a copy of the dispensation in every vehicle covered in case of any query by enforcement officers. Check he dispensation to make sure there are no onerous and unnecessary conditions attached to it.

Farmers who fail to notify the police of the movement of wide vehicles and obtain a dispensation leave themselves open to possible enforcement action such as being over-width and fines up to £220.


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