MAIN Roads WA has revamped its pilot escort rules for over-width machinery.
It follows a backlash of complaints from the farm mechanisation industry and is seen as a common sense move, though farmers will still be aggrieved.
Announcing the changes at the recent Farm Industry & Machinery Association (FMIA), Mains Roads WA acting access manager (Heavy Vehicle Services) Rich Bain said the flow chart of agricultural pilot requirements, published by Mains Road WA last month, was no longer applicable.
"We acknowledge it did cause a lot of confusion and we got a lot of feedback," Mr Bain said.
"So we have established new requirements which are simple and more streamlined."
From this week, three zones will operate to determine the need for agricultural pilots (anybody who holds a vehicle licence), while the 100 kilometre limit from origin to destination has been removed.
A green zone will consist of areas bounded by regional distributor and State roads.
An orange zone describes regional distributor roads and State roads out of the Perth metropolitan area.
A red zone designates the Perth metropolitan area where oversize pilots and escort requirements apply.
In the green zone, which relates more to farmer "traffic" towing implements, only one agricultural pilot is required for widths under 8.5 metres (previously 7.5m).
But the restriction is a limit of one kilometre of travel in the orange zone (for example, travelling on a State road).
If the width is under 6.5m and you exceed one kilometre, one licensed pilot and one agricultural pilot are required.
If the width exceeds 6.5m up to 8.5m, a licensed pilot and two agricultural pilots is required.
The contentious issue for farmers is becoming accredited as a licensed pilot themselves or for their staff.
It drew a comment from one farmer at the meeting saying there would not be enough time for farmers to obtain accreditation credentials before the rules became law.
Mr Bain pointed out that significant concessions had been made to farmers and in the case of widths up to 8.5m, the normal requirement was for a traffic escort warden and two licensed pilots.
"The key considerations for change for farmers related to short distance movements, the low number of movements and general community awareness," Mr Bain said.
"In terms of travelling more than 1km on a State road with just an ag pilot, we have judged it as too high a risk, given the number of inexperienced farm staff involved."
But he intimated his openness to speak with farmer bodies about concerns with the requirements.
In the case of manufacturers, Main Roads WA has made a concession of extending width requirements by one metre to 6.5m and requiring one licensed pilot and only one agricultural pilot (previously two agricultural pilots).
The changes were made last Thursday after Main Roads WA representatives visited Moylan Silos, Kellerberrin, that day and talked with company director Mike Moylan and his son Corey.
"We invited them up after Corey had spoken with them a lot," Mike said.
"We showed them through our operation and explained what we do and the volume of business we do throughout the State.
"We take safety very seriously and we have very professional staff, including our drivers and I guess they must have been impressed at what we do.
"It was obvious Mr Bain had a lot of experience in the area and we didn't have anything negatives at all in our discussions.
"They worked pretty fast because by that night they had sent us the revised rules which they showed at the FMIA meeting the next day."
According to FMIA executive officer John Henchy, the speed of Main Roads WA changes to agricultural pilot requirements spoke volumes.
"They told me they were changing their slides for our meeting because they had made some changes," he said.
"We thank them for listening to industry.
"It is a significant step and we hope we can continue to work with them to ensure safety on the roads."