AMES — This is National Farm Safety Week and an Iowa State University expert says tractor rides for kids are one cause of accidents that can be avoided. 

Professor Charles Schwab says tractors are a draw for kids — but they create dangerous situations. “When you have that extra individual on the tractor that really is not there serving a purpose, that creates a problem — you know  it’s a distraction to the operator and puts that extra person at risk of being run over — because that’s usually what happens,” Schwab says.

The National Children’s Center estimates one child dies about every three days in an agriculture-related incident. He says it’s not any safer to give kids rides on lawn tractors and it is actually often more dangerous because of an increased danger of rolling over.  “That extra weight of that child impacts the overall balance of that tractor. Whereas a larger field tractor, the difference of that individual isn’t as much.  The overturn possibilities or falling off it on a garden tractor are huge,” Schwab explains.

Schwab says adults need to be strong and avoid the desire of the kids to get into these dangerous situations. “Realize that as much as you’d like to share that time, that’s not the best way of doing it. And to keep a tradition of a strong and healthy family — don’t give that ride,” Schwab says. “Part of it is looking at other ways of engaging the individuals or young people in a connection.” 

He says you can still share the farm experience with the kids without putting them in danger. “It’s not just about the ride on the tractor — it’s about connecting with the people and the values of the individuals that are operating it.  Find other ways of making that connection,” he says.

Schwab there are a variety of other farm accidents this time of year. “This past month we’ve already seen auger injuries, falls, tractor overturns and collisions. They start to peak this time around harvest,” Schwab says.

He says everyone has the responsibility of helping farmers prevent accidents. “Realize that there’s going to be a lot more agricultural equipment out on the roadways and so we need to be aware. And as motor vehicle operators understand that they’ll be there and are slower than other vehicles,” Schwab says. 

He says farmers must understand the dangers while they are out on the road too.  “As agricultural equipment operators make sure that you keep engaged with what you are doing and signal your intent. And make sure all your reflective stickers and emblems and lights are all functioning,” Schwab says.

This year’s national theme is “Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear.”