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Tractor Passengers are Tractor ‘Accidents’ Waiting to Happen

It sends a chill up my spine when I see a child riding on the mud guard or standing on the drawbar. Accidents happen, but injuries and fatalities are often not accidents, if fact most need not happen. There are many ways for a passenger to fall from a tractor. Consider some a former UMass Farm Safety Specialist has mentioned:

  • Tractor strikes culvert, bump, or other obstacle and throws its rider.
  • Preschool age child loses balance, falls from tractor, and is run over by the trailing equipment. This is the most frequent accident of young children on the farm.
  • Passenger is knocked off tractor by tree limb.
  • Attempting to jump aboard a moving tractor, child falls and is crushed under the wheels.
  • Passenger's clothing gets tangled in rear wheel of tractor and is thrown to the ground and possibly run over.

There is no discrimination in tractor passenger deaths; they happen to young or old, novice or experienced, male or female.

Tractors are not equipped to accommodate extra riders. Children should never be allowed to ride on tractors no matter how much pleading they do or how much they promise that they will hang on. Tractors do not offer a passenger seat or hand holds for those that want to 'hitch a ride.'

Observing the following safety suggestions can help prevent heartbreaking tragedies:

  • Keep children off and away from farm machinery and don't permit any worker or family member to give children joy rides.
  • Insist that no one ride on farm equipment except those necessary for its operation and the job that is being done.

We all take risks but some sports and work activities are more forgiving of carelessness and mistakes. Is an accident waiting to happen worth the cost?

Stephen J. Herbert
Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Crops, Dairy, Livestock News. Vol. 1:2, Summer 1996

Last updated: 3/15/05