I was doing some research on different types of ATVs and came across this article on the Yamaha Rhino. Technically the Rhino is classified as a side-by-side vehicle and not an ATV, but they are used for some of the same jobs. While all ATVs/small ground vehicles present hazards that must be addressed, it seems like the Rhino is especially dangerous due to it’s design. The base of the Rhino is too narrow for it’s weight and height, which makes it prone to tipping over. Dozens of people have been injured and several have been killed. The main way these injuries are occurring is that the open side and top of the vehicle allows passengers to fall out during a rollover and then the vehicle, which weighs several thousand pounds, falls on top of them. Usually wearing a seat belt prevents passengers from being ejected, but in some cases even passengers wearing seat belts were injured because the catch on the belt didn’t work and the belt became too loose during the rollover. Yamaha has faced dozens of lawsuits over the Rhino, and documentation from the lawsuits has shown that they were aware of some of the design flaws before it was released. They have issued recommendations for making the vehicles safer like wearing seat belts and helmets, but no recall was issued.
If you have one of these vehicles, or a different brand of vehicle that has a similar shape (tall, with a narrow wheel base), the safest thing to do is probably to replace it with a model that is more stable. If replacing the whole vehicle isn’t possible, consider installing a new seat belt or side doors, especially in pre-2010 models. At one point Yamaha was offering customers side doors for model years 2006-2008, but I haven’t been able to figure out if the upgrade is still available for free. Seat belts, side doors, and covers that fully enclose the cab are readily available online, with prices ranging from around $50 for a seat belt kit to $700 for a deluxe full cab enclosure. Riders should always use seat belts and wear an ATV or motorcycle helmet.
`Additionally, you can take steps to prevent rollover by changing your driving habits. Try to avoid driving on slopes as much as possible, and if you do drive on slopes, drive straight up and down them rather than going at an angle. Avoid ruts that can cause one side of the vehicle to drop lower than the other. Don’t load anything on top of the vehicle since this makes it more prone to tipping over. Most ATVs and utility vehicles aren’t meant for on-road use or driving at high speeds, so make sure that you’re following the guidelines for the model you own.
ATVs and utility vehicles can help make your job easier, but it’s important to be aware of the general hazards of using them as well as problems caused by particular models. I think a lot of people who own these vehicles are aware that they’re prone to tipping, but hopefully sharing this article will help people realize how big the problem is and maybe some new ways of dealing with the problem. Stay safe out there!
Iowa Farmer came out with an article about the importance of roll over protective structures on small farms. Tractor rollover is still the leading cause of deaths and severe injuries in agriculture, and numerous studies have shown that using rollover protection plus a seat belt (to keep you inside of the protected zone) is over 99% effective at preventing death and severe injury during a rollover. With many states offering financial and installation assistance, and new designs that allow roll bars to be folded down if being able to enter low-ceiling barns is a concern, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to upgrade older tractors.
With planting and mowing season coming up, I thought I’d remind everyone that the National ROPS Rebate Program can help you purchase a rollover protection structure for your tractor at up to 70% off. Even though the number of tractor rollover deaths have decreased since the 1980’s, over 100 farmers are killed in tractor rollovers each year, and hundreds more are injured. According to the National Agricultural Safety Database, using a rollover protection structure with a seat belt is 99.9% effective in preventing death or serious injury during a rollover.
Nowadays most tractor rollovers happen while doing odd jobs like mowing, pulling stumps, yard and ditch work, etc. This is because older, smaller tractors that don’t have rollover protection tend to be used for these tasks. Farmers over the age of 65 and children tend to be at higher risk of experiencing a rollover. This may be in part because older and younger people tend to do the odd jobs that are more prone to rollover, or possibly because they might not have the same ability to respond to the situation as a younger adult driver.
In any case, using a rollover protection structure and seat belt every time you use a tractor is one of the biggest things you can do to prevent you or someone else from dying as a result of farm work. The National ROPS Rebate Program provides a variety of options to help you get rollover protection for all of your tractors. Conversion kits are available even for antique tractors and there are also versions that can fold down if being able to get in a barn with a low ceiling is what is preventing you from getting the last of your tractors updated. Click on the link below to see what options are available in your state!
Today I’d like to share a video of a demo created by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Home Safety Program that demonstrates why seat belts and rollover protection structures(ROPS) are needed to protect the driver during a rollover. Tractor rollover is still the leading cause of occupational fatalities for farmers. The number of tractors with ROPS has increased substantially because ROPS have been required on new tractors since 1985, but the rate of rollover fatalities has not decreased significantly. Part of the reason they haven’t decreased is that farmers either aren’t using ROPS or because they’re not using seat belts to keep them within the protected area. This demo shows a tractor without a cab, but a seat belt is necessary for cab-type ROPS to be effective too because it’s possible to be ejected from the cab (especially if the windows are open or break during a rollover) and to be seriously injured if you’re not secure within the cab. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health (JASH) found that of 19 cases of tractor rollover where the operator was using ROPS and a seat belt, 18 escaped with no injuries or minor injuries and 1 received outpatient care. Of the 41 cases of rollover with ROPS and no seatbelt, 12 operators required outpatient care or were hospitalized. (Source).
Another thing that this video shows is that wearing a seatbelt on a tractor without ROPS may increase the risk of serious injury because it holds the operator in the crush zone. The same JASH study found that two of the three operators who were wearing seat belts on tractors without ROPS during a rollover suffered a permanent disability. Out of 442 cases of rollover with no ROPS and no seatbelt, 203 operators suffered an injury requiring medical treatment, including 12 cases resulting in disability and 24 deaths. Having ROPS is by far safer than going without, but be aware that using a seat belt on a tractor without ROPS might further increase the risk of serious injury.
In short, wearing a seat belt and having ROPS installed drastically reduces your risk of being seriously or fatally injured on the farm. Many of us already have tractors with ROPS, so from there wearing a seat belt is a small change that drastically reduces your risk.