By: Vashti Kelly, Program Manager

Tractors are probably the most common machine found on farms today because they are used for a variety of jobs as well as aside the use other farm equipment. With the frequency of use, follows an immense number of tractor accidents. According to Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, farm tractor accidents are the major cause for farm work-related fatalities. More specifically, tractor rollovers account for more than ½ of all deaths involving a tractor. However, tractors on public roads pose a danger as well if not operated correctly.


Rollovers usually are the result of driving fast in certain conditions; hitting surface hazards like rocks, tree limbs, stumps or holes; running into ditches; hitching high for additional traction; driving on extreme inclines; and operating front-end loaders incorrectly. Whenever possible, one should drive around ditches and steep slopes. Keeping the tractor balanced is vital; forward movement up a steep slope can cause a rear overturn because the center of gravity of the tractor is higher and moves toward the rear of the tractor.

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Similarly, when backing up a steep hill or out of a ditch helps maintain steadiness and can prevent an overturn. Crossing inclines is also dangerous if not done with care. The operator should be alert for dips and raises that could prompt a rollover. If the tractor becomes unstable while operating on a slope, avoid overturning the tractor by turning down grade to stabilize the tractor. Sideways rollover are most common when navigating a steep slope or cornering too sharply at a high speed.

Some basic rules for safe farm operation:

Similarly, when operating a tractor on public roads operators need to be educated on proper use. Tractor operators need to be defensive drivers, one of the major reasons for accidents on public roads is speed, and tractors are slow moving vehicles (SMV). In addition to being outfitted with SMV signage, tractors must be equipped with lights if operated at night or under reduced visibility.

Safe driving tips: