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Plain Facts About Tractor Safety


We couldn't do it without tractors. They are essential to modern, high-output agriculture. Without them, food production would fall far short of meeting our needs. Unfortunately, no other type of farm machinery is so identified with hazards of production agriculture as the tractor.

Tractors are the major cause of death in agriculture today. Each year there are an estimated 350 to 450 fatalities due to tractor accidents. Thousands more suffer disabling injuries, and millions of dollars are lost due to property damage, medical bills, time off work, reduced productivity, and added insurance costs.

Don't make the mistake of saying that it can't happen to you because you are careful. Or that it only happens to the other guy. The facts show that a tractor accident can happen to anyone.

Never take a risk that you know you shouldn't. This includes taking extra riders on the tractor, even for just a short drive, or using a tractor for a job where a bulldozer is needed, such as pulling stumps or large rocks.

Remember, accidents do happen, even to the safest tractor operator. To reduce the risk to yourself, take necessary precautions.

Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) and seat belt-equipped tractors would save approximately 350 lives annually on U.S farms.

Accidents Happen

"Tractor operator was run over trying to start tractor from ground"
"Cut corner too short on road, rolled over in a ditch"
"Died trying to pull fence post with tractor . . . hit operator"
"Extra rider fell off of tractor . . . crushed by tractor tire"
"Tractor slid off icy roadway and rolled over crushing operator"

Tractor Safety Tips

  • Farm tractors should be equipped for roll-over accidents.
    Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) and seat belt-equipped tractors would save approximately 350 lives annually on U.S. farms.
  • Farm tractors should be equipped with bypass starter covers.
    Bypass starter covers prevent jump starting a tractor. Operators who attempt to jump start a tractor take the risk of being run over or running over a bystander if the tractor is in gear.
  • Farm tractors should be equipped with master shields.
    Many tractors do not have their original equipment power take-off master shields. A missing shield exposes an operating power take-off. Operators are at risk for entanglement around the spinning shaft.
  • Farm tractors should be equipped with SMV (Slow Moving Vehicles) emblems.
    Many tractors are driven on public highways and do not have a Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem. A SMV emblem warns other drivers of the slow moving vehicle on the roadway.
  • Farm tractors should be equipped with emergency lighting, turn signals, and mirrors.
    Operating headlights and hazard warning lights provide advance warning for other drivers sharing the highway with farm equipment. Turn signals and mirrors, if used properly, can reduce accidents while turning into fields and onto side roads.
  • Farm Equipment should be hitched properly.
    Tractors become unstable when improper hitching is attempted. Tractor drawbars are designed for towing and take into account the tractor's crucial center of gravity. Hitching or towing at points other than the drawbar may result in a rear over-turn.
  • Farm tractors should not transport extra passengers.
    Most tractors are designed for one person. You should discourage extra riders on farm tractors. An extra rider could fall into the path of the tractor or trailing equipment. A person should never be lifted up while standing in or on attached scoop implements. Serious injury or death could result from a fall.

Other Safety Measures

  • Reduce your speed when turning;
  • Avoid operating tractors near ditches, embankments, and holes;
  • If you get stuck, get help from another tractor;
  • Prohibit stunt driving and horseplay;
  • Set the brakes securely when the tractor is stopped;
  • Inspect your tractor regularly.

Please Note: These suggested safety precautions are provided as a Farm Bureau member service. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas, Inc. does not assume or accept any liability for damages resulting from the use of this information.

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