Teach Teenagers Tractor Safety

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Teenage tractor drivers, like teen car drivers, need special instruction to avoid accidents. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

I don't think the fact that agriculture is among the most dangerous professions in the country is going to surprise anyone reading this. While injuries and deaths have decreased in recent years thanks to more attention given to safety and safer farm equipment, these situations still arise.

In many cases, young people make these circumstances even more tragic. University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension is offering training for young people set to operate farm machinery this summer.

Nine different locations across the state will host the Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety and Hazardous Occupations Course, which is based on a national program. It is aimed at young people 14 or 15 years of age who will work on a farm.

According to UNL Extension, federal law prohibits youth under 16 years of age from working on a farm for anyone other than parents or legal guardians. Certification received through this course grants an exemption to the law, allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do fieldwork with specific mechanized equipment.

The most common cause of agricultural-related deaths in Nebraska is overturned tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), UNL Extension stated. Extensive training in tractor and ATV safety occurs during in-class lessons along with hands-on activities.

Instilling an attitude of "safety first" and respect for agricultural equipment are primary goals of the course, according to UNL Extension.

The course is made up of two days of instruction plus homework assignments. The first day includes hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test.

Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Students will need to finish homework assignments that will be due on day two.

The second day will include a driving test, equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Students are required to pass the written test before taking the driving test on day two.

To receive certification, students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course.

Advance registration is required.

For more information on the course, visit…

Russ Quinn can be reached at



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