‘We just pray that people would just slow down’: GOHS calls for caution from rural drivers
MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) - The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is cautioning drivers to drive safer in rural areas as accidents and fatalities are increasing.
Their campaign “Yield Behind the Wheel,” in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, is pushing for drivers to slow down, buckle up, get off their phones and never drive under the influence — especially in rural areas where farmers are transporting equipment.
Gary Black, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, said he hopes this campaign becomes a two-prong message to the ag community and drivers everywhere.
“We would like to increase yields in agriculture. We’d also like to increase yields with the quality of life by going to a zero-sum when it comes to road-related accidents with farm equipment,” he said.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, rural areas accounted for 31% of the vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. in 2020 took place on rural roads.
Officials also said Colquitt County has had the most of these crashes involving construction and farm vehicles, with exactly 13 crashes over a five-year period.
“Unfortunately, rural roads are (becoming) deadlier than driving in a city,” Allen Poole, director of the Georgia Highway of Public Safety, said.
Gray added that when drivers take the initiative to be safer drivers, less fatalities and accidents will occur.
“Having the willingness to be aware on the road, that might help save a life and so if we plant one of these seeds and it yields a fruit of saving a Georgia life, saving a farm family’s life as well as those passengers that would be on the road then all this is well worth it,” Gray said.
Leslie Jones, a farmer from Jacksonville, said he sees a lot of tragic incidents as he uses rural roads to transport his equipment.
“There’s a lot of times that you know, you get some bad looks when you’re running slow and you don’t want to be on the road no more than we have to be on the road. But we have to get from place to place to be able to grow the crops and gather the crops,” he said. “And we just pray that people would just slow down. We just think people should know to back off and give us a little room and help us get by where we need to get by.”
Poole said with the agriculture industry being an impactful part of Georgia it’s important to respect all farmers on the road.
“We’ve got to make sure that when we’re on the road and you’ve got farm vehicles on the road, we’ve got to make sure that we respect each other,” he said.
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