Share the road­ways: Avoid trac­tor ac­ci­dents

Rome News-Tribune - - EDITORIALS AND OPINION - From The Val­dosta Daily Times

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.

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