By Jane Fyksen. From Agri-View. Originally posted: May 21, 2015. Original Article.


What began as quality time for a 56-year-old man and his 7-year-old grandson ended with both dead following a tractor overturn. The grandfather was attempting to pull a tree out of the ground with a chain when the tractor flipped over backward.

The incident May 3 on a western New York farm underscores the danger of allowing extra riders on tractors, particularly young children, according to the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network. Of the estimated 100-plus farm-related deaths to children each year, most will die in incidents involving tractors and other machinery.

The tragedy mirrored an incident in 2013 on a Minnesota farm, which also claimed the lives of a grandfather and grandson.

Incidents such as these led to the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network’s national campaign called Keep Kids Away from Tractors, which states that it is never okay for a child younger than 12 years to be on a tractor. The earliest a child should be on a tractor is when he or she is old enough to take and pass tractor-safety educational classes, according to the network. And a child should never be an extra rider.

The network conceded that its campaign has upset some parents and farm owners. Riding a tractor with parents or grandparents is considered a childhood tradition in many rural areas. During the past year, however, a number of fatal, high-profile incidents have underscored the danger of allowing children to ride on a lap, sit on a fender or stand on the axle. In an eye-blink’s time, a child can fall in the path of a tire, mower or other implement. The mere presence of a child is a distraction to the adult operating the tractor.

A cab is no guarantee of safety either. Some of the most traumatic incidents have occurred when a child has fallen out of a cab. Closed cab doors can pop open when the tractor hits a rut or rock, or when a child reaches out to steady himself and inadvertently hits the door handle. A 5-year-old Kansas girl fell to her death in a moving combine header when window glass shattered.

The Childhood Agricultural Safety Network is a coalition of more than 50 health, safety and youth organizations that advocate for child safety on the farm. The network urges individuals and groups to incorporate its resources in their safety initiatives. Visit for an archived webinar, tractor safety posters and more information.

The campaign’s message may be controversial and blunt, but the lives it saves will be worth it, the network contends.

That message is, “It’s easier to bury a tradition than a child.”