Fatal crashes involving farm vehicles increase dramatically this - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fatal crashes involving farm vehicles increase dramatically this year

More than 150 people have been injured in farm and construction crashes on the highways. (Source: GOHS) More than 150 people have been injured in farm and construction crashes on the highways. (Source: GOHS)
Farmers who have been involved in accidents spoke at the Ag Expo on Wednesday. (Source: WALB) Farmers who have been involved in accidents spoke at the Ag Expo on Wednesday. (Source: WALB)
Andy Bell is a Decatur county farmer. (Source: WALB) Andy Bell is a Decatur county farmer. (Source: WALB)
Director Harris Blackwood. (Source: WALB) Director Harris Blackwood. (Source: WALB)
MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) -

The numbers of fatal accidents involving farm vehicles has more than tripled this year compared to last year.

As of right now, 13 people have been killed, more than 150 injured in farm and construction crashes on the highways.

It's a growing problem that farmers hope to put an end to.

Most people don't think of farming as a risky profession when it comes to your safety.

But on Wednesday at the Ag Expo, Decatur county farmer Andy Bell told people to think again.

With distracted driving becoming a growing concern, it makes the roads even more dangerous for farmers in their slow moving vehicles.

"I can remember that day, putting that seat belt on, and pulling it tight," said Bell.

It was that quick three second click of the strap that farmer Bell said saved his life.

In 1993, Bell was driving to tow his sprayer on busy four lane highway 84.

"I had all my safety stuff. I had my flashers, slow-moving vehicle sign, everything that I thought I needed, although I knew I was on a four lane road. It's dangerous," said Bell.

So dangerous, that all of Bell's safety precautions just weren't enough.

A large truck, transporting lumber, going about 65 miles per hour, hit Bell from behind.

"The impact knocked me out and it totaled the tractor and the sprayer. And I'm just blessed to be standing here today," he said.

As a collaborative effort between the Governor's Office Highway Safety and the Department of Agriculture, they want to get the message out there.

"We need our farmers, we need every farmer we've got in this state. We want them to go and take the crops to the market, we want them to go from field to field on the highways, and we want them to do it safely," said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood.

So in order to put an end to the number of fatalities increasing, Bell wants to remind motorists to be looking out for farm vehicles when driving out on Georgia roads, especially during harvest season.

"It's a dangerous profession, but I'm just always looking, looking right, looking left," said Bell.

Bell also recommended farmers use magnetic blinking lights to be even more visible to drivers on the roadways and urges farmers to wear their seat belts.

Bell also suggested that farmers call their local law enforcement agencies to ask for an escort when they know they'll be towing heavy equipment or driving their large tractors on busy roadways.

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