Safety Matters First!

A near-miss, involving a passing tractor and trailer, jack-knifing and colliding with the farm truck, prompted a farming family to have all their trailers undergo the Tilly Trailer Test programme to ensure they were road safe.

As a truly family affair, Ron White (grandfather), Steve White, (father) and Nick White (son) run the pig unit, together with John White (grandfather), Paul White (father) and Andrew White (son) who run the dairy enterprise of FE White & Son, on 350 acres just outside Wootton Bassett.

Recently, an accident occurred, when Steve’s 19-year-old daughter was slowly driving a Nissan Navarra along a narrow country road, when a tractor and empty trailer - travelling at speed in the opposite direction, braked hard and jack-knifed, colliding with the Nissan. Although it caused serious structural damage to the vehicle, luckily, Steve’s daughter was not badly injured, but it could have been worse. It appeared that the brakes on the trailer were not functioning properly.

Commented Ron White, “When I saw the damage to the truck, I was amazed that my granddaughter had walked away without any serious harm. But what it prompted me to ask was why farm trailers on the road aren’t subjected to stringent MOT tests, just like lorries and other vehicles? It appears that the oncoming tractor and trailer had insufficient or ineffective braking capability and the sudden braking caused it to lose control, risking damage to both operator and passing traffic.”

Steve White added, “I immediately thought about our fleet of trailers which when fully loaded, could be as much as sixteen tonnes - plus the tractor, so a total of twenty-five tonnes or more! I wanted to be sure that all our equipment was safe, both for our operators and other road users. So, I contacted Darren Barber, the Service Manager at our local TAG Branch and asked them to come out and check all our trailers and make sure they were to the necessary standards to meet the test regulations.

All TAG branches are official Tilly Test centres with authorised technicians. The Tilly Trailer inspection process will check all lights to make sure they are functioning correctly and check tyres to make sure they are of legal tread depth with no bulges, cuts or cord showing. Checks completed as part of the test include; the towing eye thickness, suspended drawbar, U bolts and springs, pins, bushes, and all hydraulic connection and hoses. Likewise, wheels and nuts, structural integrity, brakes, drums, bearings and general condition. Once the trailer has passed its inspection it receives a pass certificate which is applied to the trailer and it is recommended this test is carried out on an annual basis. TAG carry out a high volume of these tests to ensure road safety and trailer integrity.

“We had all four of our bale trailers tested and TAG found some minor faults but put everything right to ensure they were road legal.” added Steve, “I was very thankful because if it had of been one of our trailers that had put someone else’s life in danger, I would have been mortified. The certificate costs just £20 and a full test on a twinaxle trailer only £170, that’s a small price to pay when compared to the cost of a life.”

“I’m thinking we need to lobby the NFU” added Ron White. “They need to bring in legislation that ensures that all agricultural trailed equipment and vehicles have a thorough test programme - just like our cars and lorries do on the road. Without an MOT, our vehicles are illegal and that’s how it should be for farm equipment.

I’m hoping other local farmers agree with me and that we shouldn’t be using equipment on the road that is unsafe and putting people’s lives at risk. With a Tilly Test you can be sure that your trailers are safe and roadworthy.”