Being a farm kid myself and raised around tractors and farm machinery, I can tell you that farmers are often too relaxed with their kids.
I was often left unattended around or inside our old Ford tractor, even with the motor running. Now, I’m a father myself, and I can’t imagine letting my boy do the things that I’ve done.
Still, sometimes I’m still wondering, if should I bring my boy with me inside a tractor cabin, even though it has a buddy seat installed. He’s always super-curious and wants to ride with me.
Can a kid ride in a tractor?
Kids under the age of 13 shouldn’t ride in a tractor, and those older than that, including adults, should only ride if there’s a dedicated passenger seat, a secure cabin, and the drive or operation performed isn’t dangerous.
This is a somewhat controversial stance but, in my opinion, is perfectly reasonable and is enforced by laws in the UK for example.
Here in the United States, there are no laws (that I could find) that prohibit passengers from riding on tractors and farm machinery.
There are numerous calls from different organizations and even studies that suggest that there should be at least some federal legislation put in place to prohibit kids from riding on tractors and other, especially open farm machinery.
The Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Protection Act (MSPA) was designated to protect seasonal workers and doesn’t mention kids, friends, family, etc.
It does prohibit the transport of farmworkers on farm machinery other than the machine operator.
There are infinite fact sheets available that were made by safety specialists from the USDA that highlight tractor drivers and other farm machinery operators about the dangers of giving an extra passenger a ride on tractors, trailers, and other farm machinery.
How safe is the tractor cabin for kids?
A tractor cabin, no matter how safe it looks, can be a dangerous place, and not only for kids. But kids are especially vulnerable, and there have been numerous accidents where kids fell out of the tractor cabin while they were driven by their fathers.
Although the cabin itself can be perfectly fine and secure, some vital components, such as handbrakes or door catches can malfunction and pose a danger, especially if kids are left unattended.
The thing is, you can still see people driving children in open cabins, or even fenders, on country roads. It’s all fun and games until something bad happens.
I’m all about educating kids about machinery, processes, driving, etc., but adults have to be adults and not put kids in dangerous situations.
Dangerous situations are subjective, and what’s dangerous for one person often isn’t dangerous to the other. Often, using common sense is the best rule in life.
Can a kid ride in a tractor-trailer?
I remember riding in tractor-trailers all the time in the 80s when I was a small kid. It was encouraged and there would often be 10+ people inside on their way to do farm work.
Was anyone worried about cracked skulls, overturning the trailer, and falling out of it? Hardly. People were much more relaxed about safety measures back then and usually had slower tractors than the ones you can see rolling down the road today.
Were there accidents happening? Loads. It was just a way of life.
Riding in tractor-trailers, front loaders, buckets, on forks, or any other part of machinery that wasn’t designed for people to ride in poses a grave and immediate danger and potential for serious injury or death to kids and adults alike.
Just don’t do it. Five minutes of fun or convenience isn’t worth risking lives for.
What age can a child ride in a tractor?
There’s arguably no federal law that regulates this and every US state has its own legislation. Different countries also have their own laws and many prohibit all kids under the age of 16 from riding along in a tractor.
Other countries don’t allow kids under the age of 13 to ride in a tractor. I wouldn’t even let some 18-year-olds ride with me because of how immature they are and prone to getting into trouble.
13 to 16-year-olds can be driven safely inside a closed cabin with a designated passenger seat with a seatbelt properly worn if the driver is not performing a risky situation.
Can a 12-year-old work at a farm?
Kids of any age are allowed to work at any time in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents.
Child Labor Laws outline that kids that are 12 and 13 years old may work on farms that also employ one or both of their parents or with written parental consent but only outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs.
It’s the same for kids under 12, with the addition that no other farm employees are subject to the minimum wage provisions of the FLSA.
Kids between 10 and 11 can hand harvest short-season crops outside school hours for no more than 8 weeks. This is only allowed between June 1 and October 15. Employers must obtain special waivers from the Secretary of Labor.
You can check out other FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) standards in their Overview of Youth Employment.
How can you prevent or minimize risk in tractors?
This is, of course, in relation to kid safety.
- Maintain your vehicle regularly and check for faults every morning before starting work.
- Turn off the engine, apply the handbrake, and take out the keys when leaving the vehicle.
- Never leave young children unsupervised in or around vehicles and machinery.
- Kids under 13 shouldn’t drive or ride on tractors, trailers, and other farm machinery.
- Never let kids ride on forks, front loaders, buckets, etc.
- Avoid rollover accidents (going too fast, overloading, carrying a load too high, improper hitching, etc.)