Oneida County launches farm road safety initiative
UTICA — Oneida County launched its “Share the Road” farm safety initiative Monday, Sept. 12, in which the county will post about 100 signs on roads in order to bring awareness to collisions between farm equipment and vehicles.
As part of the initiative, Oneida County partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County (CCE) and the Oneida County Farm Bureau to create the road signs, which say, “Oneida County, a Farm-Friendly Community, Share the Road.” The cost of this is about $3,000.
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said the reason why this initiative is so important because agriculture is the top industry in Oneida County, with about 200 dairy farms and about 900 total farms located in Oneida County.
“It is in showing appreciation from this government to our farm community, to make their safety and livelihood a priority, we want everyone to be aware of the areas they are traveling, for the farm vehicles, for themselves and for the animals that are crossing the road,” Picente said.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert M. Maciol said that this is a national issue; 19 out of 100 people in the U.S. live in rural settings, but 51% of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. occur in rural settings.
“We’re sharing the roads with large, slow-moving equipment and people today for whatever reason are distracted, life is moving at an extremely high pace, and that’s how we end up with so many farm accidents that we’re currently seeing,” Maciol said.
Maciol said it is both the responsibility of farmers to ensure that their equipment is properly marked and maintained, and for motorists to make sure they’re sharing the road with the equipment.
The locations of the signs were chosen based on six criteria:
- Recommended by the CCE, the Farm Bureau, the Farmland Protection Board or the Sheriff’s Office;
- Located on county-owned roads;
- Determined to be a high-traffic county road;
- Targeted as an area with large concentrations of agriculture;
- Determined to be an area with high rates of farm vehicle and motor vehicle collisions; and
- Even geographic distribution between municipalities.
Signs will be placed in Augusta, Ava, Bridgewater, Camden, Deerfield, Florence, Floyd, Kirkland, Lee, Marcy, Marshall, New Hartford, Paris, Remsen, Rome, Sangerfield, Steuben, Trenton, Verona, Vienna, Western, Westmoreland and Whitestown. Municipal governments can request for more signs to be put up in additional locations.
Marty Broccoli, economic development specialist for the CCE, said that as harvest season rapidly approaches, it is vital for motorists to be aware of the farm equipment they share the road with.
“There’s a lot of equipment on the roads right now, and some of it is very big,” he said. “A lot of these county roads are two-lane roads, so we just want to make sure that the public is patient ... and safety comes first.”
Ben Simons, a local farmer and president of Oneida County Association of Towns, warned that farm equipment is increasing in size, which means that the equipment takes up more space in the road.
“As the family farms are going out of business because there’s not the next generation to carry on due to economics and everything else, the farms that are left in Oneida County are getting larger and the equipment is getting very big so that the farmers can cover more acres of land,” he said.
Picente thanked everyone who partnered with the county for the “Share the Roads” initiative.
“This effort is ongoing, it’s constant, it’s an everyday thing for us,” Picente said.
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