Improving Georgia's yield behind the wheel

Parents of Jacob Sutton were in attendance Tuesday to promote safety on Georgia roadways. / Matt Prichard

The annual Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition opened this week to the delight of farmers throughout the southeast. However for James Sutton and his family, they were there to raise awareness about driving farm equipment. Sutton's son Jacob was killed earlier this year only 8 miles from the exhibition site after a semi-truck hit the tractor he was driving.

"We're still dealing with reality, but Jacob was a spokesman, he was a people person; he could talk to anybody so we tried to pick up from that because we feel this is something he would want us to carry on," said Sutton.

That motivation prompted local politicians to get involved, creating a program to bring the public up to speed, about slowing down.

"We're going somewhere, we're talking on the phone, and we come up on a piece of farm equipment and all of a sudden tragedy strikes a Georgia family. And so we're trying to call attention to it, that's why we call it "Improving Georgia's Yield, Behind the Wheel," said Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black.

And the numbers don't lie, in the last year - 401 crashes took place involving farm equipment and other vehicles. 138 of those resulted in injury, and 5 others in fatalities.

"That's too many, it's too many on any year and it was a 33% increase over the previous year. So today our message to the motoring public is be careful," said Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Harris Blackwood.

Governor Nathan Deal shared his colleague's sentiments saying this campaign is not only important, but timely as well.

"This is harvest time, we have a lot of farm equipment, most of it is slow moving, relative to the traffic on the roads, and I would just ask everyone to slow down, pay attention, and be extremely careful," said Governor Deal.

With farming producing more than 64,000 jobs in the state, officials with the program say they hope people will take the 'Georgia's Yield, Behind the Wheel' message to heart.

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