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Preventing Tractor Overturns

Every year we hear stories of how somebody was injured or killed from a tractor rollover. These things happen in a split second giving the rider no time to think and react. You can’t always prevent an overturn, but your chance of survival is almost guaranteed if there is a rollover protection system on the tractor and you’re buckled in.

Chuck Schwab is an extension safety specialist at Iowa State University. He says tractors have a high center of gravity which makes it easy for them to overturn, especially on a slope. The safest way to maneuver a slope is to back up the hill and drive down, rather than driving across it. Unexpected things like rocks, rough ground, and depressions from soil erosion can catch you by surprise.

"And so, what happens is you’re on a slope that’s steep and then one of your tires go into that rill and that causes the slope to be more steep at that one instant," he says. "Then, the tractor has started the shift toward rolling and then it just continues."

Rear overturns are most often caused by hitching outside of, or higher than the tow bar.

"If your back wheels of the tractor get good traction and they don’t move and whatever you’re towing isn’t going to budge, if the wheel doesn’t spin and there’s power to it, there’s enough power in most tractors that will lift the entire tractor and throw it backwards," says Schwab.

Keep your speed down because it’s easier to anticipate and correct a hazardous situation if you’re going slow.

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