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Mike Kindhart, Illinois State Police education officer, left, and Terry Pope, Illinois Farm Bureau District 9 director, right, speak about the importance of rural road safety during a news conference Wednesday to launch a statewide rural road safety campaign.

Farm Bureau, IDOT, state police launch campaign for rural safe driving

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[March 18, 2013]  BLOOMINGTON -- Since 2008, roadway collisions have been the second-leading cause of Illinois farm-related deaths. To combat this problem, the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police have launched "Caution: Slow Down, Share the Road," a rural roadway safety awareness program.

"The Illinois Farm Bureau board endorsed the effort to increase awareness about rural roadway safety," said Terry Pope, director of Illinois Farm Bureau District 9. "We believe this program will save lives and exemplifies our strength as a grass-roots organization striving to serve the interests of our members. This effort originated with members of two county Farm Bureaus who recognized a problem and acted to resolve it."

The program began with Farm Bureau members in Adams and Madison counties who wanted to raise awareness about the unique dangers of rural driving. The idea quickly caught on in five additional counties. The success of the initiative at the county level and the need for safer rural roadways triggered the statewide effort.

As a part of the safety campaign, banners will appear along rural roadways throughout the state to remind rural motorists and farmers to look out for each other. The goal of increasing efforts for education and awareness is to decrease the number of accidents that occur and make rural roadways safer for everyone.

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"One driving fatality is one too many," said Mike Kindhart, education officer for the Illinois State Police. "We need to educate the public about safely navigating rural roadways. With drivers being distracted more and more with electronic devices, the need for such a campaign is even more important."

Twenty-nine Illinois residents have died in roadway collisions with farm machinery during the last five years. Rural motorists accounted for all deaths except three, who were farmers. Through the efforts of the "Caution: Slow Down, Share the Road" campaign, project partners aim to reduce rural roadway deaths to zero.

[Text from file received from Illinois Farm Bureau]

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