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Emergency 101: Tractor Tipping

Tractors can roll easily - practice safe handling!


by Benton Best - March 6, 2019

Virtually every farm uses a tractor to perform at least some critical functions on a daily basis, but many lives have been lost due to simple miscalculations in judgement when operating this type of equipment. We’re here today to shed some light on those points.

One of the most dangerous maneuvers on a tractor is turning. The sharper a turn and the faster the speed, the stronger the force to tip a tractor over.

In fact, doubling a tractor’s speed from 3 mph to 6 mph during a turn increases the force to tip a tractor over by four times. Furthermore, tripling a tractor’s speed from 3 mph to 9 mph increases that same force by nine times.

Another issue to be aware of is called Rear-Axle Torque. The idea behind this is that the rear axle of the tractor should be rotating about the tractor chassis. Well, if the rear axle should be unable to rotate, whether it’s stuck in mud or weighed down by too heavy a tow load, the tractor chassis rotates about the axle and the result is disastrous.

The front end of the tractor lifts off the ground and continues rearward until it crashes upside down into the ground or some other obstacle, thereby crushing the operator. This can leave the operator with less than three-quarters of a second to react.

Slopes are also especially dangerous for tractor operations. Experts suggest backing up an incline and driving forward down declines in elevation in order to lower the risk of flipping over.

It’s always critical for tractor operators to wear a seatbelt, and for tractors to have rollover protective structures in place to prevent the tractor operator from being crushed.

Avoid backing downhill. Instead, drive straight down even the gentlest slope. Do not drive diagonally across it.

To avoid too much rear-axle torque, engage the clutch pedal slowly and smoothly. Be ready to disengage power quickly if the front end begins to come up.

Make sure to hitch only at the manufacturer’s recommended height and do not hitch a load higher than the tractor draw-bar.

Finally, drive around ditches, not across them.



Idea/Concept: Benton Best

Videography: Andrew Moore, Ethan Chabala

Video Editing: Andrew Moore

Writing: Benton Best


Produced by Vogt Media

Funded by UPMC Susquehanna, Pleasant Valley Veterinary Care

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