GOHS asks Georgia drivers to improve their yield behind the wheel
By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
When it comes to fatal traffic accidents, they are all personal. The January death of Todd Bone shook his family and other farmers with whom he worked.
Bone was killed when the tractor he was driving on Georgia Highway 96 between Reynolds and Butler was struck by a truck. Bone had been farming land owned by Macon County Farm Bureau Director Donald Chase.
Chase recalled the experience during a Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) news conference during Sunbelt Ag Expo on Oct. 20.
“Todd was a young farmer who was just building his farming enterprise, and it really caused a lot of us a lot of grief, to see his passing and for a legacy like his to be lost. I just ask you to continue to be safe,” Chase said.
According to GOHS, there have been 2,300 road crashes involving farm equipment in Georgia since 2016, resulting in 866 injuries and 47 deaths. Some farmers injured in crashes operating tractors and other vehicles on the road are never physically able to work again, while others risk losing their farming operations from not being able to work during their recovery.
GOHS noted that most of these accidents are preventable.
“As farmers, we should do our part. The other thing that we need to be conscious of, is that when we find a place that’s safe for the cars behind us to pass, let’s make an opportunity,” Chase said. “Let’s give them that chance. No one wants to be held up. We don’t like to be held up, but sometimes we just don’t have an opportunity to get off the road and make it accessible for somebody to pass.”
GOHS Director Allen Poole and NASCAR driver Anthony Alfredo also spoke at the news conference. Poole urged Georgia drivers to take extra caution and patience on the state’s roads during harvest season.
“Rural roads may not have as many cars or traffic, as the interstate, but they’re going into the roadways between their fields and the marketplace each and every day,” Poole said. “If you’re traveling in a rural area, especially during harvest time, make sure you are ready to slow down if you come upon a slow-moving farm vehicle.”
Alfredo emphasized wearing seat belts and obeying speed limits.
“I think that’s what a lot of people forget on the roadways is you like to think you’re in control of your vehicle as you should be, but you never know what could be over the next hill, around the next turn or who could be around you on the roadways,” Alfredo said. “It’s always crucial. It’s not that uncomfortable. It’s actually very comfortable, today’s safety harnesses and seatbelts in your daily drives and even some of the heavy equipment you may be using on the farms, you hardly notice it’s even there.”