Since tractors are extremely powerful pieces of equipment, it's important to be safe around them. Remember, a tractor is tough. It's designed to go over rough terrain, and implements like brush mowers are designed to run right over and destroy heavy pieces of debris. In other words, they'll have no problem running over and destroying you, too. When you're working with a tractor, lawn and garden safety goes well beyond wearing eye protection and keeping your toes away from your push mower's blade.
When you're shopping for a utility tractor for your home and garden needs, make sure to check out available safety equipment. Tractors, because they're tall and thin, can often be tippy. Make sure to get one with a Roll Over Protection Structure -- that will help lower the risk of the tractor rolling over on you when you're just trying to get a little lawn care done.
A common tractor accident involves the operator getting run over. These accidents usually happen when the operator hooks up an implement on the ground, and then starts the tractor before getting in the driver's seat. The tractor can lurch forward, running over the operator. To help prevent this, look for a tractor that locks the ignition when the PTO is engaged. That locked ignition will mean that you have to get in the driver's seat or cab to start the tractor, keeping you out of harm's way.
Also look for a tractor with good visibility. When working, you want to be able to see as much of your surroundings as possible. A lot of tractor accidents are the result of operators not seeing other people or hazards in the area.
That brings us to the next point: the most important safety feature on any tractor is your own common sense. Don't operate a tractor near children or unsecured animals. Before working, take a walk around the area first. If you're going to be mowing, look for and remove large rocks -- a tractor's mower blades spin at 200 miles per hour (322 kilometers per hour) -- plenty fast to launch rocks hundreds of feet where they can injure people and damage property. Also, be careful operating a tractor on hills or around ditches and water. Always keep a cell phone handy when working, but only use it to call for help, otherwise it's just another distraction.
Having a utility tractor can make working your property easier and more rewarding, but it also introduces a lot of power to the work you do. Be careful with it.
For more information about utility tractors and other related topics, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Burner, Ken. "How to Select a Compact Tractor." Mother Earth News. April/May 2002. (March 20, 2010) http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/2002-04-01/How-To-Select-A-Compact-Tractor.aspx
- DeVault, George. "Tractor Safety is No Accident." Mother Earth News. April/May 2005. (March 20, 2010) http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/2005-04-01/Tractor-Safety.aspx
- Ekarius, Carol. "Taking on a Tractor." Hobby Farms Magazine. December/January 2004. (March 20, 2010) http://www.hobbyfarms.com/farm-equipment-and-tools/tractor-shopping-14977.aspx
- Griepentrog, Troy. "Two-Wheeled Tractors: Just Right for the Homestead." Mother Earth News. June 17, 2009. (March 20, 2010) http://www.motherearthnews.com/Happy-Homesteader/Walk-Behind-Tractors.aspx
- Hobby Farms Magazine. "Tractor Terminology." (March 20, 2010) http://www.hobbyfarms.com/farm-equipment-and-tools/tractor-terminology.aspx
- Mother Earth News. "Mother's Handbook: Choosing and Using a Tractor, Part I." November/December 1985. (March 20, 2010) http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/1985-11-01/Selecting-A-Tractor.aspx
- Will, Hank. "Frontier Announces New Tractor-Mounted Snow Blowers." Grit. Aug. 8, 2009. (March 2010) http://www.grit.com/daily-commute/Frontier-Announces-New-Tractor-Mounted-Snow-Blowers.aspx
- Will, Hank. "New CVT Transmission In Farmall Compact Tractors." Grit. July 22, 2009. (March 20, 2010) http://www.grit.com/daily-commute/New-CVT-Transmission-in-Farmall-Compact-Tractors.aspx