By far, transporting equipment or driving farm equipment and vehicles has been the leading cause of farm related deaths and injuries. Whether you are driving a tractor on the farm or on the highway or surveying
the fields on your ATV, safety has to be number one.
Table of Contents
- Video Clip
- FarmSafety for Transportation
- ATV Safety
- FarmSafety for ATV
- Lawn Mower Safety
- FarmSafety for Lawn Mowers
FarmSafety for Transportation:
The topics below can help you formulate a safety plan.
- Display Proper SMV Emblem
- Use Appropriate Lights and Signals
- Pre-ride Inspection
- Obey Road Regulations
- Share the Road
Display Proper SMV Emblem
Traveling on public roads and highways is necessary when moving from site to site. Because many farm vehicles are not operated at high speeds, it is necessary to identify them while traveling on roads populated with other motorists. All vehicles operating at speeds less than 25 mph should be clearly marked with a Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem, especially when traveling on public roads. Standards for the SMV emblem are set by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE), the American National Standard Institute (ANSI), and the Society of Automotive Engineers. The SMV emblem is the easily recognizable reflective orange and red triangle found on the backs of tractors and implements. The fluorescent orange color is used for daytime recognition, while the reflective red border of the triangle is meant for easy recognition during the nighttime hours. Missouri law requires any vehicle moving less than 25 mph on the highways from sunset to one-half hour before sunrise to display the SMV emblem.
The emblem must be a basedown equilateral triangle that is at least 14 in. by an altitude of 12 in., and located two to 10 feet above ground level to be seen by motorists driving behind the equipment. An ASAE standard SMV emblem is visible from about 1,200 feet. The SMV should be firmly attached to the implement, visible at all times on the rear piece of equipment, and is never meant to replace any other warning devices like tail lights, reflectors, or hazard lights. These standards apply to all agricultural equipment and other slow moving machines, including implements being towed by trucks and tractors, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and horse-drawn buggies. To learn more, read the Tractor SMV section.
Use Appropriate Lights and Signals
Aside from having a SMV emblem on display, it is crucial to use the appropriate lights on the vehicles and implements be transported on public roads. Farm tractors are required to have two forward-facing headlights as well as a red taillight that should be visible for 500 feet under clear weather conditions. Tractors and farm trucks also are all required to use the hazard-warning lights (flashers) when operating on public roads. White or amber lights are visible on the front of the vehicle, while red lights are mounted on the rear. Equipment being towed must have two red reflectors on the left and right side of the equipment. All lights must remain on while the equipment is in operation.
Farmers must also be courteous drivers when sharing the road with other motorists. Give the proper turn signal at least 100 feet before the necessary turn. If your tractor/equipment is not equipped with working turn signals, learn the correct hand signals when changing lanes, making a turn, pulling onto a road, or slowing down to stop.
Safety should be the number one concern when operating slow moving vehicles or towing livestock or implements. The safety check should occur before leaving any farmstead or worksite. It’s important to check both the vehicle and the implement being towed before traveling.
When inspecting the vehicle, check all fluids levels for leaks, like fuel, oil, coolant, power steering. Adjust all mirrors so your vision is clear from the front and the sides. Be sure all lights (headlights, taillights, signal, and hazard) are connected correctly and in peak operating condition, especially if night driving is required. If inclement weather is in the forecast, be sure your windshield wipers work and are filled with fluid in case your vision is obstructed while driving. Be sure to check the lug nuts and air pressure in the tires of the vehicle and any implements being towed. Carry a portable air tank if necessary.
All implements or trailers being towed should get the same rigorous inspection before traveling. Connect lights securely to the towing vehicle and test lights. Close and secure all doors and gates on trailers to prevent damage to the trailer or to other motorists. If the SMV on the towing vehicle is not visible, it is necessary to attach another SMV emblem to the rear of the implement being towed, to alert other motorists that a slow-moving vehicle is on the road.
Obey Road Regulations
Although there are many exemptions for farm trucks and other farm equipment on Missouri highways, it is important to abide all Missouri laws when transporting equipment. To qualify as a farm vehicle, it is necessary to register your vehicle for an “F” decal with the Missouri Department of Revenue. As described in Section 301.030 of the Revised Missouri Statutes, a farm vehicle is:
- Operations are confined solely to the transportation of property
owned by the owner or operator of such vehicle to or from a farm
owned or leased by such person; and
- Provided that any such property transported to any such farm is
used for the operation of such farm.
- Such vehicles may be operated outside the fifty-mile radius normally
restricted to a regular “local license.”
Sharing the Road
Driving a tractor on the highway or public roads can be as dangerous as driving on uneven terrain. It is equally important for farmers to be aware of their surroundings and cautious to other drivers as it is for non-farm drivers.
Transporting a trailer with several tons of livestock can also be a grueling and dangerous task. Read more about how to ensure safety while traveling with animals or heavy implements.
Avoid running equipment on highways during rush hours, bad weather, and at night. If necessary, have pilot cars accompany you on the trip, one in front and one in back, with their hazard lights on to warn other motorists they are accompanying a slow-moving vehicle.
Once on the roadway, make sure your hazard lights are on and your SMV emblem can easily be seen by other motorists. Be aware of a build-up of traffic behind you when traveling; always look in your mirrors to be aware of your surroundings. If a considerable amount of traffic has built up behind you, pull off at the next available area, and allow the traffic to pass before pulling back on to the road. The more courtesy you extend to other motorists, the more courtesy they will give you, the farmer, in return.
The use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has been on the rise each year as the agricultural sector has realized how much ease ATVs provide. Even though ATVs do lighten up and speed up the workload, associated fatalities and injuries occur at a startling pace. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 55,400 people were injured in ATV-related accidents during 1997 in the United States.
Following safety requirements and practicing caution are essential components to preventing ATV related accidents.
Top ATV Transportation Tips
- Dress properly
- Wear protective gear
- Inspect mechanical conditions daily
- Apply brakes lightly on slippery surfaces
- Follow age and legal requirements
- Climb hills in low gear
- Use counterweights with additional equipment
- Do not operate under the influence of alcohol
- Attend training course
Farmsafety for ATVs:
The topics below can help you formulate a safety plan.
Wear Protective Gear
The absence of a cab or any protective barrier increases the risk of ejection off an ATV. In the event of an accident, it is important to be dressed properly from head to toe to lower the risk of injury.
A helmet is the single most important piece of protective equipment when riding an ATV. There are many different options when it comes to selecting a helmet for riding ATVs. You should only select a helmet that has the label of the Department of Transportation, the American National Standards Institutes or the Snell Memorial Foundation. Open-faced helmets are lighter to wear, but should always be worn with a chin guard to protect the chin and mouth. Full-face helmets offer more protection, guarding the face and the head. Both types of helmets should fit snugly and be securely fastened when riding the ATV.
Eye protection is very important when riding ATVs. Clear vision is necessary to operate an ATV, especially if taken off-road. Getting hit with an object like a branch, rock, or bug while driving can cause severe injury and possible blindness. Wearing a helmet with a face shield or riding goggles will protect your eyes while riding ATVs. If you choose to wear goggles, be sure they are well-ventilated, securely fastened and free from scratches to prevent distraction.
Driving ATVs for extended periods of time can make your hands sore and tired. Wear gloves that offer protection and comfort while driving. Gloves will help protect the hands from abrasions when riding or in case of an accident. It is important to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants when riding to prevent cuts and scrapes on the body. Exposed skin can be severely damaged if hit with branches or rocks.
Operating an ATV is only successful if you can control the machine at all times. Riders should be able to start and stop the ATV as quickly as possible to avoid accidents. It is important to wear shoes will prevent the feet from slipping off the footrests when riding. Boots that lace up and are at least above the ankle for support are encouraged.
An ATV is a piece of equipment, and should be checked and maintained frequently to ensure peak operational function. Inspecting the machine before each use will minimize the risk of injury.
The following mechanical units should be checked before operating your ATV:
- Tires: Always maintain the recommended tire pressure in each tire. Use a low pressure gauge to check the pressure; most automobile tire gauges do not accurately measure low pressure in ATV tires. Use a torque wrench to tighten and secure all wheel lug nuts, and rock the tire to check for worn-out bearings and loose nuts.
- Throttle: Off-road riding in dirt and mud can cake cables and limit movement and keep the throttle from closing. Check the throttle operation while moving the handlebars fully to the left and right.
- Brakes: Brakes can prevent an ATV accident in a matter of seconds. They are one of the most important mechanical parts on an ATV and should be kept in prime condition. If an adjustment needs to be made, consult the owner’s manual before adjusting to prevent injury.
- Lights: When riding at night or on roads, lights are necessary to alert others that you are on an ATV. Make sure all lights are properly connected and all bulbs are working before riding.
- Fuel and Oil: Running out of oil or fuel when riding ATVs is a hassle. Before riding, check to make sure you have enough oil and fuel to last for the duration of your trip and check that you do not have fuel or oil leaks anywhere on the machine.
- Drivetrain and chassis: Riding on rough terrain will loosen chassis parts. Check each part to ensure all are tightly secured, including handlebars, and footrests, and adjust with fasteners with a wrench if necessary.
Follow Age and Legal Stipulations
Each state in the U.S. has a set of laws pertaining to the legal age and conditions of operating ATVs. Missouri passed legislation that regulates where and how ATVs can be operated (link to law?). The Missouri Public Safety Department reports that 44 percent of ATV accidental deaths involve children 16 years of age or younger. Missouri legislation says that children under 16 can legally operate an ATV, but if they are not on land owned by their parent or guardian they must ride under adult supervision. Never allow small children to operate ATVs by themselves; they may be big enough to reach the throttle and brakes, but may lack the ability to know how to use those controls to operate the ATV.
It is illegal to operate ATVs on Missouri highways. However, an exception to this rule allows farmers to use ATVs for agricultural purposes, but only between sunrise and sunset. If you do ride your ATV on the highway, you should wear all the necessary safety gear, and carry a valid driver’s license.
The majority of ATV accidents involve young riders, alcohol, passengers, or using ATVs on public roads. To ensure the safety of those riding the ATV, do not allow passengers to ride the ATV, unless for agricultural purposes. And, as with any motor vehicle, never drink alcohol when operating an ATV. Impairments will result in potentially more severe injuries with the absence of a cab for riders.
Attend Training Course
As the four main ATV distributors in the U.S., Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yahama joined together to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs. They banded together to create the ATV Safety Institute, (ASI) a readily available training course. ASI offers an ATV RiderCourse, a one-day, hands-on learning experience. The course is taught by certified instructors all over the U.S. The instructors cover pre-ride inspections, proper riding gear, local laws, emergency stopping and swerving, and riding over obstacles.
- 2 Die in All-Terrain Vehicle Crash Near Doniphan – 5/19/2013
- O’Fallon Man Dies in ATV Accident – 12/17/2012
Lawn Mower Safety
FarmSafety for Lawn Mowers:
Wear Protective Gear
Even though lawn mowers travel at low speeds, the blades on the deck revolve at high speeds, sometimes causing grass, weeds, sticks, and even rocks to be thrown at dangerous speeds. You should be dressed properly from head to toe.
Wearing flip-flops is highly discouraged when mowing the lawn. It is important to protect your feet and toes from potential harm by mower blades or lawn projectiles. If mowing early in the morning, grass can be wet; you need to wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes to be most effective when mowing. You should wear long pants and a long-sleeve shirt when mowing to shield you from sun damage as well as from lawn projectiles. Be sure to protect your vision when mowing by wearing sunglasses or safety glasses to keep dust and small grass particles out of your eyes. The absence of a cab exposes you to excessive motor noise when mowing your lawn; purchase earplugs to protect your hearing.
Before mowing, inspect your machine and all its parts to ensure maximum mowing efficiency. Do not make adjustments unless the engine is turned off. Here is a basic safety checklist to complete before mowing your lawn:
- Adjust and sharpen the blades of the mower
- Check the air pressure in each tire
- Check oil and fuel levels
- Display a reflective Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV) sticker on the back of the mower when traveling on or near public roads.
Check Lawn for Obstructions
There are a lot of things that can accumulate in your lawn between mowing cycles. Thoroughly walk through the grass and remove large sticks, metal, glass, wire, rocks, or any other obstructions before mowing. When the lawn mower blades hit those objects, it has the potential to start a fire, damage or dull the mower blades, or damage surroundings.
Be Aware of Surroundings
Never allow children to be a passenger on a riding lawn mower! They are small enough to be seriously injured by the mower blades or crushed by the machine. Make sure the children play in a safe area while you are mowing, and do not allow them to play in the yard until you are finished. When mowing near public roads, always watch for traffic. Only mow close to roadways when there is no traffic present.
Lawn mowers can easily be tipped over from mowing on uneven ground. When using a push mower, mow the grass across the faces of hills, not up and down. When using a riding mower, mow up and down on small slopes, but avoid mowing on excessively steep slopes.
Always make sure the mower is off before clearing jams or making adjustments.
- Farm Safety: A safe farmer is a successful farmer brochure
- Highway Safety for Missouri Farm Trucks pamphlet
- ATVs: Safety Comes First brochure
- Size and Weights brochure
- National Healthy Worksite Program
- Youth in Agriculture
- North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) Guidelines
- Agricultural Safety Topics
- Agricultural Operations
- Electrical Safety on the Farm
- Machine Safety Walkthrough