GDA, GOHS Hold Road Safety Event In Appling County
By: GFB News
3/13/2013 3:05:05 PM
The Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety are combining to promote road safety as the planting season gets in full gear, and they held a media event at Branch Farm Supply in Appling County to promote awareness both for farmers and the general motoring public.
The event, organized by Appling County young farmer instructor Jim Galvin, drew a crowd of approximately 60 people, including numerous representatives from various law enforcement agencies.
"It's very very critical this time of year, because very shortly the equipment will be traveling the roads," Galvin said. "We're getting to the time of year where we're going to be planting spring crops. We want to make the public aware that this equipment is out there, and it is generally slow-moving."
A similar event was held last fall at the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo, coinciding with harvest time.
Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood detailed "Improving Georgia's Yield Behind the Wheel," the GOHS program aimed at reducing accidents involving farm equipment. Blackwood noted that while 38 fewer people overall were killed on Georgia roads in 2012 than in 2011, six people were killed in crashes involving farm equipment in 2012, up from five in 2011.
Blackwood said Georgia's 1,198 traffic deaths in 2012 ranked fifth behind Texas, California, Florida and North Carolina in number of overall road fatalities.
"We want to make sure that our friends in agriculture have an opportunity to get from field to field safely," Blackwood said. "Our first goal is to bring that number below 1,000, and one of our first goals also is to bring this number of farm equipment fatalities to zero. We can do that."
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black talked about the importance of being safe on the roads, encouraging farmers to make sure the safety markings on their equipment is visible and to allow passenger vehicles to pass when possible.
"If by drawing attention to these important issues we can have a positive impact on one family in the state of Georgia by preventing an accident, then it is worth the effort," Black said.
Luther Hires of the Coastal Area Traffic Enforcement Network spoke about the importance of educating the public about road safety.
"We'd rather educate you than arrest you," Hires said. "What we want to talk about is trying to share the road with this big equipment. It's springtime, and they're beginning to get out to the fields."
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