Cell phones and other electronic devices are unsafe to use while driving tractors and other equipment, warns a Kubota Tractor Corp. official.

“The best advice for operators is to stay focused to stay safe,” says Greg Embury, vice president of sales and marketing. “National Safety Month (June), and particularly safe driving week (June 24-30), provide us with an important reminder to pay close attention to the task at hand, avoid all distractions, and to take note of all safety practices before using tractors, lawn and garden equipment, construction equipment and utility vehicles.”

Talking, texting or using other gadgets can distract a driver or operator visually, mechanically and cognitively, says Embury. Visually, you take your eyes off the road or task at hand; mechanically, both of your hands are not on the wheel; and cognitively, your mind isn’t solely focused on driving your tractor or operating other equipment.

“Powering down your phone or other electronic device before you engage your tractor or equipment is the only way to stay fully focused,” he says.

In addition, he lists the following points:

  1. Know your tractor, its implements and how they work. Read and understand the operator’s manual before operating the equipment. Also, keep your equipment in good condition.
  2. Use a rollover protective structure (ROPS) and seatbelt whenever and wherever applicable. If your tractor has a foldable ROPS, fold it down only when absolutely necessary and fold it up and lock it again as soon as possible. Don’t wear the seatbelt when the ROPS is folded. Most tractor fatalities are caused by overturns.
  3. Be familiar with your terrain and work area – walk the area first to be sure and drive safely. Use special caution on slopes, slow down for all turns and stay off the highway whenever possible.
  4. Never start an engine in a closed shed or garage. Exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless – and deadly.
  5. Always keep your pto properly shielded. Make it a habit to walk around your tractor and pto-driven implement – never walk over, through or between the tractor and implement, particularly if either is running.
  6. Keep your hitches low and always on the drawbar. Otherwise, your tractor might flip over backwards.
  7. Never get off a moving tractor or leave it with its engine running. Shut it down before leaving the seat.
  8. Never refuel while the engine is running or hot. Additionally, do not add coolant to the radiator while the engine is hot; hot coolant can erupt and scald.
  9. Keep all children off and away from your tractor and its implements at all times. Children are generally attracted to tractors and the work they do. However, a tractor’s work is not child’s play. Remember, a child’s disappointment is fleeting, while your memory of his or her injury or death resulting from riding the tractor with you, or being too close, will last a lifetime.
  10. Never be in a hurry or take chances about anything you do with your tractor. Think safety first, then take your time and do it right. When it comes to talking on the phone, texting or emailing, there is no message so important that it cannot wait.