Engaging High School Students in Activities to Prevent Tractor-related Injuries

By age 16, youth who live or work on farms typically have been driving farm tractors for the previous 5 or 6 years. Youths 16- to 19-years-old are at high risk for both motor vehicle crashes and tractor overturns. Youth who do not live or work on farms but drive on rural roads are also at high risk for collisions with farm equipment. The purpose of this project was to involve rural Kentucky high school students -- namely, members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) -- in community-based, research to practice (r2p) activities for preventing farm tractor-related injuries, particularly those that result from roadway collisions, overturns, and runovers. The project had four goals:

  1. Increase rural high school FFA and vocational agriculture students’ awareness of roadway collisions involving farm tractors and other motor vehicles.
  2. Provide teachers and students with an easy-to-use visual safety inspection checklist to assess farm tractors’ readiness for public roadway travel.
  3. Promote dialogue between adolescents and adult farmers (primarily family members) about tractor inspection and safety issues.
  4. Provide empirical data about the safety status of a sample of tractors that travel public roadways in four counties.

As part of a supervised agricultural experience 119 FFA students in Taylor, Nelson, Woodford, and Mercer Counties conducted visual safety inspections of 153 wheeled farm tractors involved in roadway travel. The activity was part of a hazard recognition and defensive driving project for preventing roadway collisions between farm tractors and other motor vehicles.

Participation in the project increased students’ awareness of tractor safety issues, promoted dialogue about these issues with adult farmers, and provided empirical data about the status of a sample of farm tractors that travel public roadways in these four counties. This data included tractor demographics (year manufactured and brand); operator compartment safety features (wheel stance, ROPS status, operator seat and platform, rear wheel fenders, mounting and dismounting features); lighting and marking features (head and tail lights, turn signals, flashers, SMV sign, mirrors); and other safety features (PTO shields, starter terminal shield, cleanliness of engine and drive train components, and condition of the exhaust, fuel, and electrical systems). The teachers and students found the project to be a worthwhile educational and community service activity.

For more information contact the Principal Investigator: Henry P. Cole, EdD Professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention University of Kentucky College of Public Health Lexington, KY 40504-9842 Phone: 859-323-6836