April 4, 2013

Share the road

April 4, 2013 The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — On Monday afternoon, a near tragic accident occured when a vehicle impacted with a tractor on Highway 84 West. The tractor driver was thrown and suffered non-life threatening injuries and the occupants of the van, including children, were reportedly uninjured.

This could have been a far worse accident with serious injuries, and the farmer, Gary O’Neal, requested help in getting the word out in the area to slow down and pay attention to the roadways.

According to Georgia highway regulations, agricultural vehicles have the right to use all public roads and highways, other than the interstate system. Tractors and other farm machinery can be driven or towed, cannot exceed 25 miles per hour, cannot drive on the highway between dusk and dawn or when visibility is poor due to hazardous weather conditions such as snow or ice. They also cannot travel a distance longer than 15 miles between fields or farms.

 In O’Neal’s case, he was reportedly following all of the laws, not exceeding the speed limit, and only traveling two miles between fields in the daylight. He had every right to be there, according to the state.

Despite the fact that farm vehicles are accorded specific privileges, few drivers seem aware that they must share the roadways. Farm tractors may be rare around Atlanta, but they are common in nearly any other section of the state. Georgia’s agricultural industry is still the state’s foremost economic engine, and as such, should be held in high regard. Farmers should be accorded a measure of respect, which includes recognizing their right to the roadways.

Accidents happen, but far fewer would occur if everyone would remain vigilant while driving. This weekend, with traffic returning from spring break vacations, all of our local highways will be more crowded than usual. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tractor, a truck or a car, watch where you are going and pay attention to the road.

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