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7 tips on tractor safety

Many homeowners know what makes a safe automobile, but few understand tractor safety. Glenn Wright, product manager of John Deere compact tractors, provides these rules for tractor safety.

Many homeowners know what makes a safe automobile, but few understand tractor safety. Glenn Wright, product manager of John Deere compact tractors, provides these rules for tractor safety.

1. Make sure the front and rear of the tractor are balanced. Add extra weight on the back of the tractor if you're lifting something heavy in front to prevent the back from coming off the ground, and vice versa.

2. Stay within the ROPS (rollover protection structure) zone. ROPS (the U-shaped bar over the operator) protects the driver in a rollover. The plane from the top of the hood to the top of the ROPS should go over the operator's head when the driver sits on the seat.

3. Wear your seat belt. ROPS is ineffective without the seat belt, which keeps you inside the protection zone.

4. Ask if the tractor has an operator-presence system. This is a switch in the seat that automatically kills the engine when the operator is not seated. If your tractor does not have this feature, turn the engine off before leaving the seat.

5. Turn on the headlights to make your tractor is visible when driving in low-light situations.

6. Walk your work area first to become aware of any obstacles. Some tractors have a treadle pedal, where toe pressure causes forward movement and heel pressure puts the tractor into reverse. When going over a hole or stump, the resulting bump may cause the heel to hit the pedal and throw the tractor into reverse. Separate pedals for forward and reverse can reduce the risk.

7. Keep children off the seat and out of work areas. Tractors have one seat -- the operator's.

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