2009-04-30 / Local & State

Rural Roads Safety Week Event Held

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

As farmers start their move back into fields to begin the spring planting season, a handful of local of farmers, business owners and residents gathered at the Back Run Road farm of Harry Johnston last Wednesday morning to celebrate Rural Roads Safety Week and remind motorists to stay alert and safe.

According to Fulton County Farm Bureau representative Al Clark, the week of April 19 through April 25, known nationwide as Rural Roads Safety Week, was designed to raise awareness on the importance of driving safely on rural roads.

"Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for farmers and equipment will be on the roads during planting season," Clark added in his announcement.

In addition to a welcome and introduction by former Fulton County Farm Bureau president Marlin Lynch, the special event also included a presentation by farm owner Harry Johnston, who is also the owner and operator of Fulton Valley Ag Services, and Trooper George Carper of the Mc- Connellsburg state police barracks. Carper shared legal requirements as they apply to the operation of farm equipment and how motorists should interact with farmers while navigating area roadways.

Carl T. Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau based in Harrisburg, shared with the "News" that while safe driving practices should be implemented year round, motorists should exhibit extra caution during spring planting.

"Drivers should keep their guard up throughout the planting, growing and harvesting seasons by reducing speed and being more aware of other motorists," Shaffer stated. "We encourage farmers and drivers on country roads to look out for one another and to share the road so we can save lives, avoid serious injuries and eliminate costly accidents."

In 2008 alone, there were 89 crashes and five deaths involving farm equipment and vehicles. Those numbers are up from PennDOT's statistics that show in 2007 two people died during a total of 82 farm equipment and vehicle-related accidents.

As reminders to both motorists and farmers, Shaffer said farmers operating equipment on roadways must display a red-bordered, orange triangle sign, referred to as a slow moving vehicle emblem, on the rear of all vehicles and equipment that move at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less.

Motorists are also reminded to leave ample time to reach their destination so as not to rush on the roadways, to pass any equipment with extreme care and caution, to remain visible and yield to oncoming wide vehicles.

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