© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Background Operating farm tractors is dangerous for children. Recent studies document mismatches between children and physical requirements for operating tractors. The role of cognition has not been studied, because such research conducted in real-life situations places youth at risk. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and psychometric properties of a simulated virtual tractor environment to examine how children's age and development impacts safe tractor operations. Methods Fifty-five male youth ages 10–17 living/working on farms with experience driving tractors tested the virtual environment and simulation modules. Six adult male farmers were recruited as a reference group to compare youth performance with adults. Results The simulation had adequate face validity with realism scores reported between “somewhat” and “quite” realistic. Internal reliability of the simulation was excellent, as demonstrated by highly significant intraclass correlations for key indicators of performance (speeds and hazard clearances). While there was some evidence for construct validity, as indicated by trends in performance across the age groups, findings were mixed. Conclusion Study findings support using simulation for assessing the abilities of children to safely operate tractors.