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Farm Week

Tractor Rollovers Cause More than a Third of All Farm-Related Fatalities

Farm Related Deaths

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.  - Despite continuous safety improvements to farm machinery by manufacturers, more than a third of all farm-related fatalities each year involve a tractor rollover, according to analysis by COUNTRY Financial of farm-related deaths in Illinois over the past 10 years.  Collisions involving farm equipment caused the second highest number of fatalities in the same time period.

 From 2005 to 2015, 36-percent of all farm-related deaths in Illinois occurred as a result of tractor or other farm machinery rollover or run over.  This past year, July 2014 to June 2015, seven farmers were killed as a result of a tractor rollover.

“The sad reality is while manufacturers continue to build safer farm machinery, many farmers are holding on to older tractors that lack the essential safety features of new machinery,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative.  “While new farm equipment may have roll over protective structures (ROPS) installed at the factory, many farmers are using older tractors that have not been retrofitted with ROPS.”

To prevent rollovers, Vanasdale recommends farmers avoid mowing on steep grades, hills, ditches, or pond banks, utilize tractors that have ROPS installed and to always wear a seatbelt. Some studies have shown using a seatbelt and ROPS prevent 99-percent of rollover deaths and serious injuries.

“Your grandfather’s tractor has served your family well.  Reward it by retrofitting it with modern safety equipment like ROPS or by turning it into a parade tractor, out of harm’s way,” Vanasdale said.

Majority of collisions involving farm equipment caused by speed   

Fifty-three people were killed in collisions involving farm equipment between 2005 and 2015. This represents 21-percent of all farm-related deaths in that time period in Illinois.

Vanasdale recommends drivers slow down as soon as they see farm equipment on the roadway and to be cautious of farm equipment making wide turns or sudden left turns into fields or driveways.  Also, only pass farm equipment when it is safe to do so. 

“We all need to work together to keep the roadway safe,” Vanasdale said.  “Rural motorists need to understand farm equipment is there and to share the road and farmers need to be good stewards of the roads, too.”

Farmers should only move equipment during slow traffic times and encouraged to always remove the corn head for transport.

“Corn heads get wider as equipment grows larger.  Roadway accidents can be made worse by a combine with the corn head attached,” Vanasdale said.

Breakdown of Farm-Related Deaths

Time Period Machinery Rollover/Run Over Roadway Collision Grain Bin Other* Total
July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015 7 5 0 2 14
2005-2015 91 53 28 84 256

*Includes animal attack, electrocution, drowning and other accidents on the

COUNTRY Financial tracks farm-related deaths each year and reports the finding in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week and the Illinois Press Association. This year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week runs September 20-26 and focuses on the theme, “Ag safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle.”

COUNTRY Financial also works with Illinois Farm Bureau to promote farm safety awareness and sponsor county Farm Bureau safety grants.