Reducing Tractor Fatalities: Two Decades of Progress

  • Young, Clair W.


  • Tractor fatalities have declined over the 22-year-period, 1956 through 1977. This decline has occurred during a period when tractor numbers on Ohio farms have remained relatively constant.
  • Sixty-three percent of the tractor victims were killed in overturns, with the majority of the overturn fatalities (67%) being sideways. Field conditions at the time of the fatalities were not related to overturns.
  • Full-time farmers or family members of full time farmers accounted for 47 percent of all tractor fatalities.
  • The age grouping of 65 and over accounted for 26 percent of all fatalities. The next most affected age grouping was 45-64, accounting for 25 percent of all fatalities. These two age groups are killed in disproportionate numbers when compared to the percentage of rural Ohio population that they occupy.
  • Males were fatality victims of tractor accidents in 94 percent of all cases studied.
  • Extra riders accounted for 13 percent of all fatalities with 43 percent of the extra riders being under 5 years of age. The percentage of extra rider fatalities from full time farm families was greater than for part time farming or non farm victims. Drivers of tractors involved in extra rider fatalities were usually brothers or fathers of the victim. Twenty-four percent of the drivers of the tractors in extra rider fatalities were in the 11-15 age group.
  • More fatalities were recorded for the six hour period following 12:00 noon than for the six hour period immediately prior to noon. A noticeable drop in fatalities occurred after 6:00 P.M. A greater percentage of part time farmers were killed after 6:00 P.M. than was full time farmers.
  • May was the highest fatality month followed by July, August and June respectively.
  • Almost half of all tractor fatalities occurred in the field. Highway related tractor fatalities accounted for 18 percent of all fatalities. A greater percentage of full time farmers was killed in highway accidents with motor vehicles than was part time farmers. Twenty-three percent of all fatalities occurring in tractor-motor vehicle altercations was represented by victims age 70 and over. A noticeable decline occurred in tractor fatalities related to altercations with motor vehicles i the decade following the required use of the slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem.
  • All major makes and types of tractors were involved in fatalities during the 22-year-period of the study. No single make, model or type of tractor stands out as being more susceptible to accidents then another. No specific setting of wheels or weighting situations were determined a major cause of upsets or accidents.
  • Equipment being pulled or attached to tractors or mechanical failure were not determined major factors in tractor accidents and fatalities. No one specific piece of equipment can be singled out as a major contributing factor to fatalities.


SOURCE: Ohio: Cooperative Extension Service, The Ohio State University; 1978. 8.


This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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