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University of Minnesota Extension

Tractor and rural roadway safety

Tractors and large field equipment are the most common causes of farm accidents, injuries and deaths. They are a necessary part of farm work but exercising caution when using them is crucial in preventing accidents. 

Spring, summer and fall are busy times on the farm, and seeing equipment out on the road is common. Whether you’re operating the equipment or sharing the road with it, safety is paramount.

Before operating farm equipment

Before operating farm equipment, understand how to do so safely. Be sure anyone who is going to be using the equipment is aware of these areas as well.

  • Read the operations manual.
  • Pay attention to any safety or warning decals on the equipment.
  • Inspect the equipment for any safety hazards.
  • Identify all safety hazards including moving parts, pinch points, crush points, pull-in areas and free-wheeling areas.

While operating equipment

  • While using the equipment, keep bystanders—especially children—away from the equipment operation area.
  • Before approaching equipment for an inspection or repair, shut it down, turn off the engine, remove the key and wait for all moving parts to stop. This is the only time you should be removing any safety devices, such as shields from the equipment.
  • When any work you were doing is completed, safety devices should be put back on.

Using public roadways

An important part of equipment safety is responsibly using public roadways.

  • It is Minnesota law for all vehicles traveling under 30 miles per hour on public roadways to use lights and flashers to ensure visibility and to have a "slow-moving" emblem on your tractor and equipment.
  • Consider using a follow vehicle when moving large pieces of equipment, especially at night.

Proper safety precautions on the roads keep not only you safe, but the other people using the road as well.

Watch our video on agricultural roadway safety (02:20).

Author: Emily Krekelberg, Extension farm safety and health educator

Reviewed in 2020

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