Roll overs are a major hazard for tractor drivers. They can cause serious injury and even death, so it’s extremely important that people take due care when behind the wheel. Safe operation of a tractor means knowing its limits, so let’s take a look at some risk factors to keep in mind so that you can avoid such a serious situation.
At what angle will a tractor tip over?
The general consensus among manufacturers and Kubota dealers is that most tractors will tip over when they’re on a lateral angle of 39 degrees. There are certain factors that can reduce this angle, so it’s always good to err very much on the side of caution and avoid getting anywhere near that amount of tilt.
One of the main additional risk factors for tractor rollover is a raised front-end loader. If the tractor is carrying a load and the bucket is raised, this also raises the centre of gravity. The higher the centre of gravity, the easier it is for the tractor to roll. This means the acceptable angle of slope is significantly reduced, and so it’s important you consider your loader position before tackling any steep slopes.
Another risk factor is speed. If you’re travelling across a steep slope and you turn towards the incline, you increase the risk of the tractor falling over. The turn and slope combine to significantly increase roll over potential, so it’s important that you’re very careful with your speed when on a steep slope.
What about climbing angles?
Kubota tractors and some other manufacturers provide a slope rating which states the maximum climbing angle. This angle is generally around 10 – 15 degrees and considers a range of factors that can affect the performance of the machine. Exceeding this angle can cause a backwards roll which is just as dangerous as a lateral roll.
Similar to lateral rolling, factors such as speed and loader bucket position can affect this angle, so it’s best to make sure your centre of gravity is as low as possible before approaching such a climbing angle.
How can you reduce the risk of a tractor roll over?
If you have no choice but to drive your tractor over slopes regularly, there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of tipping over.
Firstly, when driving, always make sure you match the speed and operating conditions. No job should be so urgent that it risks your safety, so if it feels like you’re getting anywhere near your tractor’s limits, take it slow, especially when going round corners or driving downhill.
It’s also good to be aware of ditches and banks, and avoid them where possible. They may seem fairly innocuous but all it takes is one misstep and you could find yourself in some trouble. Added to that risk is the potential for wet and loose soil surrounding them.
How can you prepare your tractor before driving to reduce the risk of tipping over?
It’s recommended that you set your tractor’s wheels as far apart as possible to stay balanced and reduce the risk of tipping over. A wider wheel base means a lower centre of gravity and thus reduced risk of rolling over.
It’s also a good idea to lock the tractor’s brake pedals together if you’re going to be driving the machine at transport speed.
Also, if you’re driving the tractor in an area with many slopes, try to map out your trip before you start driving. If you know the terrain beforehand, you can find the best routes to avoid steep slopes completely. This may cause some increased transportation times but it’s better to get to your destination late rather than not at all.
What should you avoid doing if you have to drive your tractor on a slope?
There may be times when you have no choice but to take your tractor on a slope, so it’s important that you are very careful when doing so. The worst thing that you can do is attempt to turn uphill while on the slope. Doing so risks shifting the centre of gravity beyond the wheel base of the tractor, which will result in a roll over.
Instead, take the cautious approach and find a section of flat ground where you can turn towards the direction you need to go.
Another thing to avoid is parking. If you have a load and you park on a slope, moving your loader bucket can be just enough to push the tractor beyond its limits. So, always park on flatter ground.
The most important part of every job is that you get home safely. It can be tempting to push the limits to speed things up a bit, but if you’re putting your safety at risk then it’s just not worth it. Play it safe, stay within your tractor’s limits, and take on the rest of the job the next day if you have to.