The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has urged farmers to ‘switch off’ their work lamps before taking to the road this winter.

This safety plea has been issued following a number of public concerns over the illegal use of these lights which can dazzle other road users and cause confusion.

Work lamps, commonly referred to as 'ploughing lamps', are fitted to agricultural tractors and self-propelled machinery to give extra visibility when working on the farm.

However, it is illegal to use these on the public road and some farmers are forgetting to switch them off.

Road Traffic Regulations ban the use of white lights to the rear of any vehicle in a public place and in times of darkness the RSA has said that it can confuse motorists into thinking that a vehicle is approaching.

Only red and amber lighting should appear on the back of a vehicle.

In addition, these work lamps are highly powered causing other road users to be temporarily blinded which is a serious road safety concern.

Revised standards were introduced because the current regulations were deemed to be outdated.

Over the years, agricultural vehicles have become bigger, faster and more powerful, and are now used for a variety of jobs that the current regulations don’t cover.

Starting in 2008, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) carried out a major review of the law and the policy and practices relating to using agricultural vehicles on public roads.

This review included a public consultation process. The RSA has said that these revised changes are more suitable for modern agricultural vehicles in terms of their compliance with critical road safety standards in the areas of braking, suspension systems, tyres and lighting as well as the weights for which the vehicles are designed.

Most correctly maintained tractors already comply with the revised standards being introduced.

Those that do not comply are likely to need only small adjustments – for example, fitting a flashing amber beacon or a new manufacturer’s plate showing the axle weights and the maximum weight of the load the vehicle can tow.