Do not send SMS while driving agricultural equipment

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You’ve heard the slogan a thousand times: “Don’t text and drive”. This is good advice not only for those who drive cars, but also for those who operate tractors, farm trucks, and other farm equipment such as combines and high-span machines.

Linda Emanuel, director of community health for the Agrisafe network, notes the dangerous nature of using farm equipment and texting. The size, weight, and maneuverability of heavy equipment and trucks can lead to fatal accidents, just like with small motor vehicles, but truckers and farm equipment operators have to multitask while driving. This makes them more likely to cause or be involved in an accident if they are distracted.

Emanuel says Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) research shows the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event, which would include an accident, near miss, or unintentional lane departure, are 23, Twice higher for truck drivers, for example, who text while driving than for those who don’t. These results could also be extrapolated to operators of agricultural equipment.

In addition to safety-critical events, farm equipment operators could crush obstacles if distracted, which could cause a tractor to tip onto its side. Other dangers include children running around the farm or muddy surfaces with many cross slopes that can cause drift and side skidding when braking.

Tractor rollovers are a serious concern. “This type of accident can happen anywhere, but it’s most common when the tractor is turning, driving near steep slopes, or driving near the side of the road,” Emanuel explains. “A rollover can happen when the farmer changes gears or applies the brakes, especially if the roads are slippery due to rain, snow or ice.

Tips for stopping text

It’s so tempting to respond to this quick text, just a second, while driving a tractor or combine, so there are steps farmers can take to avoid that temptation altogether, Emanual says. Gathering information from the FMCSA’s “No-Text Rules Fact Sheet,” she says you can put your cell phone in the glove box of your truck or somewhere safe in the tractor or combine. where it is out of reach.

“Turn off your cell phone, put it on silent or ‘do not disturb’,” she adds. “You can also download or use apps that block phone use while driving, including TextLimit, Cellcontrol or Live2Txt, for example. These apps allow you to block certain features of your phone, be it emails, text messages, phone calls or any other social media notification.

“There is always the option to turn off notifications without an app using settings to turn off notifications or turn off texting and phone calls by locating someone’s information from whom you would typically receive notifications.”

Teens and texting

It is important for parents and adult supervisors to set a good example of not texting when using the equipment or driving.

“Test teens on the operation of all controls, use safety features, think about protective gear and general training your teenager needs on equipment, and buy what is age appropriate and at the waist, ”suggests Emanuel. “Be sure to perform routine maintenance checks and have teens who use the equipment read and follow the operating instructions. “

These are basic safety tips that everyone should follow, but they apply along with the rules for sending text messages.

In addition to these safety measures, parents should perform a maintenance check before youngsters use any equipment and ensure that tools and equipment are all in working order. “Broken or malfunctioning equipment increases the risk of accidents or injuries,” says Emanuel.

Local extension resources, the Farm Bureau and other agricultural agencies often offer courses in safe tractor driving for young people, to teach safe farming techniques and good manners of using age-appropriate equipment.

Each summer, Nebraska Extension offers tractor safety training open to students 13 years of age and older. Nebraska FFA also supports tractor driving competitions to promote the safe use of farm equipment.

Keeping chores age-appropriate is one way to keep kids safe on the farm. According to Emanuel, various federal and state laws often dictate which jobs – including driving tractors, combines, and other pieces of farm equipment – are appropriate for specific ages.

Regardless of the age of the farm equipment operator, texting while driving can kill the operator or someone driving along the road near the farm equipment. Research clearly points to the advanced risks of texting while driving farm equipment, as well as any other distractions that take your eyes and mind off the road. There are many resources available where you can learn more, including the No Text Rules fact sheet at fmcsa.dot.gov.

Additionally, Nebraska Extension, Central States Center for Ag Safety and Health, and AgriSafe are planning a new hands-on farm safety day for youth on May 24 at the Nebraska Extension West Central Research and Education Center in North Platte, and May 26 at Elevate Nebraska at Fonner Park and the Nebraska State Fairgrounds on Grand Island.


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