For immediate release
Monday, October 19, 2015
Contact: Katie Fallon
GOHS Public Information Officer
404-463-0611 (o) | 404-309-7591 (c)
Chief Communications Officer
Department of Agriculture
404-656-3689 (o)| 404-831-3072 (c)
Agriculture and Highway Safety Officials Urge Caution During Harvest Season
GOHS and Agriculture Dept. combine for "See the light and slow down" message
MOULTRIE, Ga. - Fall in Georgia means pumpkin patches, apple picking, state fairs and a chill in the air. But it also means more farm equipment will be traveling Georgia roads heading to and from harvest.
This year, officials from the Department of Agriculture and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety are once again uniting to urge both farmers and motorists to use caution when sharing the road. This campaign coincides with the annual Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie.
"Because tractors are slow-moving vehicles and things like peanut and cotton wagons often don't have lights, we're particularly warning folks to be careful at dusk and dawn," GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said. "We want to encourage motorists to yield to slow-moving vehicles no matter how inconvenient it might seem. But we also want to ask farmers that if their equipment doesn't have lights, to add a series of inexpensive, magnetic lights to keep themselves and other motorists as safe as possible."
When approaching a slow-moving vehicle, motorists are cautioned to slow down as soon as possible. If a vehicle is traveling at 55 mph and comes upon a tractor moving at just 15 mph, it will only take five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.
Last year in Georgia, there were 510 collisions involving farm and construction equipment. Those crashes resulted in 169 injuries and 22 fatalities. Unfortunately, that is an increase from 361 collisions, 142 injuries and 9 fatalities in 2013.
“These accidents are 100 percent avoidable,” Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said. “But it will take the farming community and the driving public working together to ensure that our farm workers can do their jobs safely to get food on our tables and contribute to a safe and prosperous harvest season in Georgia.”
Farmers should always make sure any equipment they have to drive on a public road is marked with the slow moving vehicle triangle, which is orange with a red border and is reflective. Data, however, shows that fewer than 30 percent of drivers know what that symbol means, which can be a matter of life and death for farm equipment operators. It symbolizes that the vehicle it is affixed to travels at speeds of 25 mph or less.
For more information about road or agricultural safety, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org or www.agr.georgia.gov.