Special to the Journa;l
Number of fatalities involving farm equipment rises for second year
(ATLANTA, GA.) – The number of crashes on Georgia roads involving farm equipment rose 7 percent in 2012. With harvest season approaching, the state’s highway safety and agriculture agencies are teaming up to bring attention to the need for more safety on Georgia’s rural roads.
For the third year, Gary Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner, and Harris Blackwood, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director, are putting their united efforts behind the “Improving Georgia’s Yield Behind the Wheel” campaign.
“While motorists cruise the beautiful rural roadways of Georgia this year, they should be aware of slow-moving farm equipment using those roads during harvest season,” Blackwood said. “We’ve worked the last two years to get this message out to drive safely around slow-moving vehicles, but it’s clear there is still more work to do.”
Statistics from 2012 show that nine deaths resulted from 429 farm-equipment related crashes, and 185 people reported injuries.
“As our farmers are working to bring in this year’s crop, we want to remind Georgians of farmers’ increased presence on the roadways,” Black said. “While traveling, we urge you to be mindful of tractors and other farm equipment sharing the same roadways and to take extra precaution.”
Commissioner Black and Director Blackwood will appear together at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 16 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie to remind the state’s farmers and motorists the importance of sharing the road.
“When sharing the road with other motorists, farmers should have red reflective triangles posted on their equipment to signal to drivers they are operating a slow-moving vehicle,” Black said. “The triangle should be visible and if it is rusted or faded, it should be replaced. We want our farmers to have a happy harvest and for motorists to get home safely.”
By law, farm equipment must have the nationally designated slow-moving vehicle sign – a red triangle-shaped reflector – to warn oncoming drivers that their equipment is on the road. These vehicles often travel at speeds no higher than 25 mph.
“When drivers come up on slow-moving vehicles on an open country road, many won’t think twice about passing them in a hurry,” Blackwood said. “We want to remind motorists that these farmers have every right to use the roadway, too. Waiting a few minutes to safely pass or for the driver to pull over won’t impact their drive substantially, and they will get home unharmed.”