2012-10-10 / Front Page

Farm equipment safety on Geor gia r oads a mus t


This is no way to get a load of peanuts. This crash occurred in Miller County the day before Valentine’s Day of this year. This is no way to get a load of peanuts. This crash occurred in Miller County the day before Valentine’s Day of this year. Crashes involving farm equipmentonGeorgia’sroads increasedby33%in2011,and asharvestseasonisunderway, leaders of the state’s agriculture and highway safety agencies are joining forces to draw attention to the need for safety on the state’s rural roads.

Gary Black,commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), are launching the second annual “Improving Georgia’s Yield BehindtheWheel”campaign.

“Asourfarmersareworking to bring in this year’s crop, we want to remind Georgians of farmers’ increased presence on the roadways,” Black said. “Whiletraveling,weurgeyou to be mindful of tractors and other farm equipment sharing thesameroadwaysandtotake extra precaution.”


The cotton fields are turning from green to white all over the county as the farmers are getting ready to pick cotton. There will be some very large equipment going from field to field and to market. Be particular! The cotton fields are turning from green to white all over the county as the farmers are getting ready to pick cotton. There will be some very large equipment going from field to field and to market. Be particular! Data shows that the rate of farm equipment crashes rose 33 percent from 2010 to 2011. Among the 401 reported accidents involving farm equipment last year, five resulted in fatalities.Manymoreresulted in serious injuries.

“Last year, our efforts created more awareness of the dangers on Georgia’s rural roadways, but clearly, we’ve got more work to do when it comes to protecting our people and our state’s biggest industry,” Blackwood said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone gets home safely, whether or not they get there in a combine or a convertible.”

Patience and vigilance, they say, is the key to saving lives.

Farm equipment often travels the roadway at speeds no higher than 25 mph and legally must be marked with triangleshaped reflectors to warn oncoming motorists of their presence on the roadway.

Rural roadways have proven more fatal to Georgians than even metropolitan Atlanta highways. Deadly crashes in rural areas are all too frequently attributed to speed on the often open roads.

Likewise, vehicles approaching farm equipment at a speed of 55 MPH can travel the length of a football field within seconds, and have little time to react.

“Nothing is more enjoyable than a fun ride on a country road, but approaching a slowmoving farm vehicle at a high rate of speed could prove deadly,” Blackwood said. “ Slowing down to 20 MPH for two miles should only add six minutes to a commute. That’s about the time it takes to sit at two stop lights, and it’s just a drop in the bucket to the time you could lose in a crash on a rural road.”

Georgians can improve their yield behind the wheel by following a few simple tips travelling Georgia’s rural roadways:

For Motorists:

•When passing a farm vehicle, do not enter an oncoming lane of traffic unless you can see clearly ahead of the vehicle you will pass.

•Do not assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is letting you pass. Due to the size of some farm implements, the farmer must execute wide left turns. If you are unsure, check the operator’s hand signals and check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or any place a farm vehicle might turn.

For Farmers:

•Georgia law requires operators of slow-moving vehicles to place a reflector on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph. Always point the triangle reflector upwards, keep the emblem clean to maximize reflectivity and replace the emblem when it fades, normally every 2-3 years.

•Mark the edges of tractors and machines with reflective tape and reflectors. Consider installing retrofit lighting on older machinery to increase visibility.

•Turn on your light, but turn off spotlights when going onto the road.

•Avoid the highway during rush hour and bad weather. Do not drive before sunrise or after sunset.

•Consider installing mirrors on equipment to enable you to be more aware of motorists around you.

For more information on the “Improving Georgia’s Yield Behind the Wheel” initiative, please visit www.gahighwaysafety.org or www.agr.georgia.gov.

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