An epidemiological study of roadway fatalities related to farm vehicles: United States, 1988 to 1993

Susan Goodwin Gerberich, Leon S. Robertson, Robert W. Gibson, Colleen Renier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Compared with the estimated injury fatality rate for workers in all occupations (nine in 100,000 in 1988) the farm fatality rate (48 in 100,000) was among the highest in the nation; in 1993, these rates were eight and 35 in 100,000, respectively. On-road farm vehicle fatalities have been identified as a significant problem, yet these events apparently have not been investigated in a comprehensive manner. The purpose of this study was to investigate the circumstances surrounding all on-road, non-truck, farm- vehicle crash fatalities in the United States from 1988 through 1993. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatal Accident Reporting System, which includes data for all US fatal on-road motor vehicle crashes, was the source of data. Driver-related variables were compared among farm vehicles, vehicles in collisions with farm vehicles, and all other vehicles in rural, fatal crashes, environmental variables were compared between rural farm vehicle and non-farm-vehicle crashes. During 1988 to 1993, in rural areas, 444 farm-vehicle occupants were killed, in addition, 238 occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians were killed in collisions with the farm- vehicles. The farm vehicles were disproportionately involved in overturns, rear-end collisions, and incidents in which the injured person fell from the vehicle, when compared with all other non-farm vehicles involved in rural- area fatal crashes. Of the farm vehicles involved in fatal crashes at night, dawn, or dusk, 65% were struck in the rear, compared with 4% of vehicles involved in fatal non-farm-vehicle crashes. Compared with drivers in all other rural crashes, farm-vehicle operators were more likely to be male, have a greater proportion of convictions for driving while intoxicated, and a lower proportion of previous speeding convictions. From this initial investigation, it appears that the fatal-crash involvement of farm vehicles are related to vehicle and environmental factors that are changeable. Given the proportion of overturns associated with farm vehicle crashes (21%) compared with non-farm vehicles (9%), there is a need to investigate design characteristics of the farm vehicles. The large proportion of farm vehicles struck in the rear during daylight (24%) as well as night, dawn, or dusk hours (65%), compared with non-farm vehicles (4% and 4%, respectively), suggest factors related to visibility and perception of the farm vehicles' speed that provide a basis for further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1140
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1996


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