Share the roadways: Avoid tractor accidents
We join the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in the effort to prevent crashes involving tractors and farm vehicles. It is harvest season and motorists need to pay attention, slow down and check their aggression on the roadways.
Georgia Department of Transportation data shows there were 494 crashes involving farm and construction vehicles in Georgia last year that killed 12 people and injured 185 others.
“These tragic accidents can devastate a family and an entire community,” Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black said. “But they are 100 percent avoidable. We are urging everyone on the road this harvest season and every season, to pay attention to our farmers so they can safely continue the good work of putting food on our tables and clothes on our backs.”
Almost 40 percent of the fatal traffic crashes in Georgia in 2016 occurred on rural roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to a statement from the department of safety, many of the crashes are caused by drivers traveling too fast and not being able to stop in time when they are approaching farm vehicles traveling between 18-25 miles per hour.
“Many farmers are literally having to look over their shoulder because so many people are not paying attention and refusing to slow down for farm vehicles who have the legal right to operate their equipment on our roads,” Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said in a prepared statement. “Farmers are simply asking to share the road, especially this time of year when they are working to get their crops to market.”
The state’s office of highway safety shared the story of Crisp County farmer John Bullington, a grower who said he knows firsthand about the dangers he and his neighbors face on the road every day.
“Bullington, who has been farming since he was 8 years old, knows of four farmers in his county who have had brand-new tractors, water wagons and other equipment either severely damaged or destroyed after being hit on the road this year. His brother, Donald, hasn’t been able to work for the past four years after he was injured in a crash while driving a high-top sprayer on U.S. 41. ‘These crashes change farming operations completely and can cause some farmers to lose their land,’ Bullington said. ‘When a farmer is hurt in a crash, it turns their world upside down, and that is what has happened to us.’”
Georgia law requires all farm vehicles on the road to have triangle-shaped signs which signal they are traveling at speeds significantly slower than normal traffic.
Many farmers also use other devices such as battery-operated flashing lights to help other drivers see them. When it is safe for them to do so, farmers will pull over and allow vehicles to pass.
Motorists need to simply slow down and be cautious as they near slow-moving farm vehicles and remember these growers are feeding and clothing our families.