Trailer Break Testing

A recent report conducted by the HSE into agricultural tractor and trailer brake safety identified that 90% of the trailers tested failed to meet the statutory brake specifications.

Trailers and trailed equipment are essential elements of many farms and rural businesses, from grain trailers to beaters trailers and trailed bowsers. Regular use of the trailers will inevitably cause wear, tear and degradation of the braking systems. Due to the nature of trailers being required to carry heavy loads both on private land and on public highways their maintenance and upkeep is essential to reduce the risk of mechanical failures and possible accidents and injuries.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment 1998 regulations and the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 regulations require all work trailers including their brakes to be properly maintained in a good and efficient working order. We advise that at least an annual test is conducted for each trailer and applicable trailed implement. On public highways the legal requirement for both hydraulic and pneumatic trailer brakes travelling below 40kph (25mph) is 25% braking efficiency, if being driven at speeds above 40kph (25mph) a braking efficiency of 45% is required.

Braking legislation recognises that the sole purpose of a trailer is to transport a load, and this includes trailed implements such as bowsers, sprayers and slurry tanks, some of which have the potential to weigh more than loaded trailers. If these implements are trailed at speeds greater than 20mph on public roads then they are required to comply with the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986, however it is best practice for all trailed implements with brakes to undergo an annual brake test.

There are two types of trailer brake testing available to you, the decelerometer and the rolling road test. The decelerometer test provides an overview of the overall brake efficiency values whilst the rolling road test shows a greater level of detail of the condition and efficiency of each axel, helping to identify the specific location and cause of issues. For both tests it is recommended that the test is completed with a laden weight of at least 65% of the vehicle design axel weight.

There are multiple locations of where you will be able to have a rolling road test conducted including dealership, garages and mechanics or on your farm by a mobile rolling road unit.

Merit Inspection Solutions conduct trailer brake testing which is carried out by our qualified engineers. Depending on the size and layout of your farm the test could be conducted at a regional location or on your own site. If you would like more information on Merit Inspection Solutions services please visit

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