Roll Bars Save Farmers' Lives

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

January 29, 2007

The death of Bedford county supervisor and farmer, Bobby Pollard, is shedding light on a common, yet overlooked danger to farmers...tractor accidents.

Pollard is one of 125 farmers who have died in Virginia in the past twelve years in tractor-related accidents, most of them roll-overs.

Tractors made before the 1980s are still very common on farms, but most do not have roll bars.

The roll bar works by preventing the weight of the tractor from coming down and crushing the driver.

If a tractor has one, the farmer has a 99 percent chance of survival, but the cost of installation can be over a thousand dollars.

The Virginia Farm Bureau helps offset this cost by offering a rebate of $150 dollars.

Albemarle county farmer, "Corky" Shackleford, says anything to encourage farmers to get a this safety device is important. He, himself, almost got hurt in a rollover accident.

"I was on a hillside and the ground was frozen, but thawing on top and was slippery and I lost traction and it began to slide and my only recourse was to jump off and out run it," Shackleford recalled. "I don't want to do that a second time."

All of Shackleford's tractors now have roll bars. One also has a canopy to protect farmers from the sun. If a farmer gets one of these, along with the roll bar, then the VFB will foot $300 of the cost.

The effort could save up to ten lives in Virginia alone, every year.

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