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John Deere Gator Safety Policy


In accordance with the requirements of Massachusetts General Laws, manufacturer’s specifications and Milton Academy policies and procedures, this Gator (Utility Vehicle) Safety Program has been implemented for the Safety of the faculty, staff, students, visitors, and outside contractors.


This Policy which covers the Operation and Maintenance of the John Deere Gators, used on campus, is applicable to every operator of the vehicles, and those who maintain same.

Massachusetts General Law, Motor Vehicles, Chapter 90: Section 9

No person shall operate any motor vehicle upon (street) any public way, unless such vehicle is registered in accordance with this chapter and carries its register number (license plate) displayed.

Massachusetts General Law, Labored Industries, Chapter 149, section 62

Operation of unregistered or improperly equipped motor vehicles, tractors, trailers, etc.

No person shall employ a minor under the age of eighteen:

  • To operate motor vehicles of any description, except golf carts on a golf course if the minor is licensed to operate a motor vehicle.


Milton Academy Vehicle Policies, including the use of Gators and Golf Carts, prohibit the leaving of keys in the ignition for reasons of liability and safety.

  • A stolen vehicle, in which an injury or property damage occurs, shall be the responsibility of the operator.

Operator’s Manual

  1. The Operator’s Manual and video for John Deere Gators are available through the Campus Safety department. The information contained in this safety training session was taken from the manufacturers operating manual and was specifically designed to meet the needs of the Academy. The training program specifically complies with manufacturer specifications for inspection, maintenance and operation.
  2. Comments, concerns and questions can be directed to the Director of Campus Safety and Risk Management. Any deviation from the operator’s manual was incorporated to meet a more stringent regulatory requirement of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or Milton Academy Guidelines.
  3. The operator’s manual, specific to the John Deere Gators, purchased by the Academy, is available online or with the associate director of grounds, fleet and special events for ease of reference. Maintaining a legible copy of the owner’s manual on the vehicle is a requirement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Operator Training and Requirements

  1. The John Deere Gator safety decals and labels identified in this section are placed in the appropriate areas to draw attention to potential hazards.
  2. The decals and labels are required and shall not be removed.
  3. Should a warning decal or label become damaged, removed or otherwise rendered unreadable, it shall be replaced by Milton Academy facilities services as soon as possible.
  4. As a utility vehicle, the John Deere Gator was not designed to be used for “off roading”. The units purchased by the Academy are not all-terrain recreation vehicles.
  5. The Gator was not intended for public road or highway use, as it may be a hazard to the faster moving traffic.
  6. Operators and passengers should be seated separately, and shall not under any circumstances be allowed to ride on the vehicle, unless they are seated in the center of the seat with both feet inside the vehicle.
  7. Gators are permitted to cross public roads, at crosswalks, provided appropriate care is used with regard to pedestrians and traffic. The Gator must come to a complete stop before crossing.
  8. Gators are not permitted to operate with traffic unless registered.

The John Deere Gators have safety decals and labels that warn of the appropriate hazards and risks. Safety alerts range in hazards from a lower risk “Notice” to a much more significant “Danger”.


  • Hazardous situations with high probability or death or severe injury


  • Hazardous situations which have some probability of death or severe injury


  • Hazardous situations which may result in minor or moderate injury


  • Indicating a possibility of company policy as the message relates (in)directly to personnel safety or protection of property.

The operator’s manual, which must be available for review and training, explains the potential safety hazards associated with the operation of the Gators.

Decals and labels specific to the Gator include: 

Danger Labels

Shield Eyes

  • Explosive gases can cause blindness or injury.
    • Flames, smoking and sparks will create explosion hazard.

Warning Labels


  • Maximum of on e person per seat
  • Riders are not permitted in the cargo area



  • Massachusetts General Law, being more stringent, supersedes this requirement. No person under the age of 18 is permitted to drive the Gators or Golf Carts.


  1. Read operator’s manual
  2. Drive very slowly while turning.
  3. Always use brakes when going down a slope to prevent the vehicle from taking off (freewheeling) down a hill.
  4. No loads heavier than the vehicle is rated for.
  5. Spread load evenly.
  6. Tie loads down.
  7. Reduce speed and load on rough or hilly ground.  


When filling fuel tank, both doors and front windshield should be in the full open position.

  • Cell Phones and Portable Radios shall be turned off while tank is being filled.
  • Engine should be allowed to cool prior to filling the Fuel Tank.
  • Prevent Fire and Explosion cause by Static Electricity.

    1. Use only non-metal portable fuel containers, approved by either Factory Mutual (FM) or Underwritten Laboratory (UL)
    2. Never filled portable containers in vehicle or cargo area. Place container on ground and maintain contact between nozzle and container.
    3. Do not fill tank in an enclosed area.
    4. Clean up any fuel spillage with hot water and soap.
    5. Do not operate or occupy vehicle if any fumes are present.
    6. Do not cover or obstruct any vent slots at floor area.
    7. Close fuel cap tightly.

Caution Labels

Before Leaving Vehicle

  1. Stop engine.
  2. Set parking brake.
  3. Remove key. 

Help prevent injury when dumping loads.

  1. Operate dump with parking brake lock.
  2. Never dump while moving.
  3. Operate dump on level ground only.
  4. Do not place hands behind seat when lowering box.
  5. Refer to Operator’s Manual for correct load distribution.

Daily Checklist

Before operation of a John Deere Gator, the operator shall:

  • Inspect the vehicle for;
    • fuel and oil leaks
    • warning decals and labels in good condition
    • lighting abnormalities or failures
    • horns and other warning signals
    • properly inflated tires
    • guards and shields for personnel safety
    • broken or missing parts
    • check for proper security of loads


  1. Operators must be sitting in appropriate seat.
  2. Vehicle brake should be engaged.

    • Start vehicle in neutral with choke engaged (during cold weather).
    • If engine does not start within 5 seconds, turn key off and wait 10 seconds before next attempt.
    • Never attempt starting the engine more than 3 times within a 5 minute period. The starter must have time to cool to prevent damage.


During the operation, the driver shall;

  • know the location of all controls, both inside and outside the vehicle.
  • not operate the vehicle with the cargo box raised.
  • check brake action before, during and after use, and report any abnormalities to Milton Academy facilities services.
  • not leave the vehicle running, unattended because the vehicle may;
    1. be inappropriately used by unauthorized persons
    2. accidentally shift gears and move, causing injury or property damage, and
    3. place the Academy in situations of undesired liability.
  • avoid sudden starts, stops ad turns.
  • use directional signals to indicate path of travel
  • turn the vehicle only on level ground.
  • not wear headphones designed to play music or other distracting noises.
    • Earplugs or muffs may be used to lower decibel levels which are generated by the Gator, during normal operation.
  • use the Gator when adequate lighting is present.
  • not permit horseplay or any other activity that will place passengers, cargo or the vehicle at risk.
  • keep from wheels straight at crest of hill or when going over bumps or depressions.
  • use headlights, as they reduce the risk of accidents by as much as 10%.

Crossing Public Ways

The John Deere Gators and Riding Lawnmowers may cross public ways directly from one Milton Academy property to another Milton Academy property. Gators and lawnmowers may not be driven along a public way at any time nor may they be driven along sidewalks that are adjacent to non-Academy property.

  1. When crossing a public way, Gators and Riding Lawnmowers will be operated with all due caution. Gators and lawnmowers will always yield to normal vehicular traffic and will cross using improved pedestrian crossing whenever possible. Prior to crossing, Gators and lawn mowers will come to a complete stop.
  2. The crossing of public ways is never permissible during the hours of darkness without proper lighting.


  1. The parking brake system shall be engaged whenever the vehicle is unoccupied.
  2. Brakes shall be tested before and during operation for reasons of safety.
  3. Braking shall be used when descending steep slopes to prevent the Gator from freewheeling.


The John Deere Gator shall:

  • be stopped and parked on a level surface.
  • be locked as indicated on the center console.
  • Engine shall be stopped, and have the key removed to prevent unauthorized use.

Rough Terrain

When using the Gator on rough terrain the following precautions shall be used;

  • Use existing trails.
    • Avoid swails, dangerous slopes or depressions, bumps, holes, ruts and other obstacles.
  • Because of lower roof clearance, the manufacturer recommends the use of head protection.
  • Keep wheels straight at crest of hill or over bumps.
  • Reduce speed to lower risk of rollover.
  • Brake frequently when descending slopes.
    • Do not permit the Gator to “freewheel”.
  • If vehicle stops or loses power, lock brake to hold vehicle in place.

Water Hazard

When a water hazard is encountered, the operator shall;

  1. not cross the hazard if the operator is not fully aware of the actual depth.
  2. not attempt to cross if water level is 6″ or greater in depth.
  3. proceed slowly and carefully if the water level is less than 6″.


Before performing any work on the Gator, the operator and mechanic should understand the appropriate service procedures indicated in the manufacturer specifications.

  1. Never adjust, lubricate or service the vehicle when the machine is moving.
  2. All safety devices must be in place and properly working.
    • Under no circumstances shall a safety device be altered or defeated. Modifications not specified by the manufacturer could cause serious injury or death.
  3. Keep hands, feet, clothing, jewelry and long hair away from any moving, unguarded parts, to prevent entanglement or serious injury.
  4. The engine must be kept clean, free of leaves, grass, weeds and/or excessive oil or grease, to prevent fire.
  5. Before service, the authorized repair person should disengage all power and stop the engine, which shall include:
    • Locking the brake and removing key.
    • Allowing machine to cool before service.
    • Disconnecting battery (negative) cable before making electrical adjustments or welding.
  6. All parts shall be maintained in good condition and properly installed.
  7. Modifications to the John Deere Gator are prohibited, unless specifically permitted by the manufacturer, in writing.
    • Alterations such as the installation of additional seating or equipment could result in loss of warranty, cause serious injury or death, and place the Academy at considerable risk from liability.
    • Modifications could cause the vehicle to become unstable and increase the possibility of rollover.
  8. Tires shall not be mounted without the proper equipment. Tires should be checked and maintained for adequate pressure.
    • Do not over inflate the tires above recommended pressure.
    • When inflating tires, the person should use a clip-on chuck and extension hose.
  9. Check all tire wheel bolts to insure that they remain tight.
    • Because each individual Gator records its hourly use on the dashboard, it is the responsibility of the operator (at that time) to report the 100 hour reading to Milton Academy facilities services.
    • Wheel bolts should be checked every 100 hours.
  10.   Gators must be fueled in accordance with the requirements of Section b, referenced in this policy.


  1. The cargo bed or box of the John Deere Gator shall be
    • evenly distributed.
    • securely anchored to prevent shifting or loss of load.
    • loaded in a lesser quantity, if on uneven or hilly terrain.
  2. Never drive Gators with tailgates hanging down and unsupported. Lugs on tires will contact tailgate causing potential structural damage to the vehicle.
  3. Material and equipment shall be flagged (orange or red) if it exceeds the length of the bed by 3′.

Load Discharge

  1. Before dumping load, be sure the vehicle is on level ground and stable surface.
  2. A cargo box can be very heavy. Cargo boxes that are not equipped with power lift were not meant to be raised by hand. Back injury may result.
  3. The center of gravity changes as a loaded cargo box is raised.
    • Do not allow rear wheels to hang over the edge of a loading dock or trench.


Batteries shall be maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications.

  1. Batteries being charged can generate explosive hydrogen gas.
  2. The battery may be different in size and voltage than normal passenger vehicle.
    • Persons unfamiliar with the charging or electrical system of the John Deere Gator should be referred to Milton Academy facilities services.

Hazardous Chemicals and Waste

Hazardous materials used in the Gators, which includes, but is not limited to, antifreeze, brake fluid, batteries, gasoline and oil can adversely effect the environment and the College if not handled properly.

  1. It is the responsibility of the Amherst College Mechanic to properly handle and dispose of all hazardous waste generated from the John Deere Gators.
    • Hazardous materials and waste shall be labeled in accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Right-to-Know law, Hazard Communication, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
    • All waste generated will be properly capped or covered, except when actively being filled or discharged, and shall be placed when full into the Hazardous Material Storage Building, Bay 4.