Tractor rollover is the leading cause of agriculture-related deaths in the United States. Prompted by a public health bulletin on tractor accidents, a team of industrial design graduate students and faculty in Iowa State University’s College of Design set out to change that statistic. In collaboration with a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering from the College of Engineering, and working with ag safety experts and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists, the team has developed a prototype device that addresses two aspects of tractor-rollover fatalities: warning and response time.
The tractor-mounted instrument can warn operators of impending danger and, using GPS and cellular or satellite technology, also alert family members and emergency personnel of a rollover when it happens. Even if the operator is unconscious or unable to reach a cell phone, help can still be summoned quickly, thus reducing the time between occurrence and discovery of a rollover accident—crucial for saving lives.
Following field testing, focus groups with farmers, and further research and development, the team now has a smaller, faster, more reliable “version 3.0” prototype that it plans to demonstrate for farmers and the public at county fairs, the Iowa State Fair, and the Farm Progress Show.
The group also is working on related issues of increasing the likelihood that operators will buy, properly install, and correctly use rollover protection systems (ROPS); and how operators can locate ROPS for the oldest tractors still in use, for which no roll bars or other safety devices currently are available.
Download PDF: ISU Tractor Rollover Research