It is common knowledge that texting while driving a car increases your risk of an accident. Even talking with a hands-free device requires the brain to multi-task and can be risky behavior. The same goes for driving a tractor or using other heavy equipment. Today’s tech tools—like cell phones, music devices, or tablets—are “tractor distractors” and are unsafe to use while operating heavy equipment.
“The best advice for operators is to stay focused to stay safe,” says Greg Embury, vice president of sales and marketing, Kubota Tractor Corporation. “National Safety Month, and particularly safe driving week, provides us with an important reminder to pay close attention to the task at hand, avoid all distractions, and to take note of all safety practices before using tractors, lawn and garden equipment, construction equipment and utility vehicles.”
Power down before you power up
An accident occurs involving drivers using cell phones every 24 seconds, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). June marks the NSC’s National Safety Month with a specific focus on safe driving during the week of June 24-30. Kubota takes this opportunity to remind its customers and the public to use all equipment with care. This means turning off your cell phone or other tech tools before you power up your equipment or turn on your tractor.
Talking, texting or using other gadgets can distract a driver or operator visually, mechanically and cognitively:
- Visually, you are impacted by taking your eyes off the road or task at hand.
- Mechanically, both of your hands are not on the wheel.
- Cognitively, your mind is not solely focused on driving your tractor or operating other equipment. Powering down your phone or other electronic device before you engage your tractor or equipment is the only way to stay fully focused.
Brushing up on important safety reminders can make a difference
In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the U.S., according to the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry. With this volume of distractions, and with tech tools becoming more accessible and part of our everyday use, it is increasingly important to be reminded of the dangers of distracted tractor and heavy equipment operation.
In addition, Kubota’s “Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety” are important reminders for tractor operators for a year-round commitment to safe operating practices:
- Know your tractor, its implements and how they work. Please read and understand the Operator’s Manual(s) before operating the equipment. Also, keep your equipment in good condition.
- Use ROPS and a seatbelt whenever and wherever applicable. If your tractor has a foldable ROPS, fold it down only when absolutely necessary, and fold it up and lock it again as soon as possible. Do not wear the seatbelt when the ROPS is folded.* Most tractor fatalities are caused by overturns. (*Kubota Tractor Corporation strongly recommends the use of ROPS and seatbelts in almost all applications.)
- Be familiar with your terrain and work area—walk the area first to be sure and drive safely. Use special caution on slopes, slow down for all turns and stay off the highway whenever possible.
- Never start an engine in a closed shed or garage. Exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless—and deadly.
- Always keep your PTO properly shielded. Make it a habit to walk around your tractor and PTO driven implement—never walk over, through or between the tractor and implement, particularly if either is running. The PTO rotates with enough speed and strength to kill you.
- Keep your hitches low and always on the drawbar. If you don’t, your tractor might flip over backwards.
- Never get off a moving tractor or leave it with its engine running. Shut it down before leaving the seat.
- Never refuel while the engine is running or hot. Additionally, do not add coolant to the radiator while the engine is hot; hot coolant can erupt and scald.
- Keep all children off and away from your tractor and its implements at all times. Children are generally attracted to tractors and the work they do. However, a tractor’s work is not child’s play.
- Never be in a hurry or take chances about anything you do with your tractor. Think safety first, then take your time and do it right. When it comes to talking on the phone, texting or emailing there is no message so important that it cannot wait.