AMES, Iowa – July 13, 2010 – As Iowa’s corn crop grows taller, motorists are urged to use extra caution at roadway intersections and railroad crossings where the driver’s view may be obstructed.
Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics show there were 48 total crashes during 2009 at rural intersections due to obstructed views by trees or crops. These crashes killed four people and caused at least 49 injuries. Property damage totals from these crashes came to $440,298.The state normally sees approximately two fatalities each year due to sight obstructions on rural gravel intersections and driveways.
Most rural intersections are not marked with stop or yield signs; however, highway-rail grade crossings are marked with a crossbuck that serves as a yield sign. "These intersections should always be approached with caution," said Troy Jerman with the Iowa DOT’s Office of Traffic and Safety, "especially when the view is obstructed by crops or trees.”
Jerman said motorists should treat these intersections as if they had stop or yield signs posted, and not enter the intersection or cross the railroad tracks until they are absolutely certain no vehicles are coming from the side roads or trains are present, and then proceed with caution.
The appearance of dust from an approaching vehicle on a gravel roadway is often used by motorists as a signal to slow down at a rural intersection. Wet weather and special roadway treatments can hold down the dust and make it more difficult to tell if a motor vehicle is approaching on a side road. Loose gravel can also make controlling a vehicle very difficult when making any sudden stop. "The simple rules of keeping your speed down and exercising additional caution in areas of limited visibility are critical to safe driving in rural areas," added Jerman.
Trains can be very difficult to spot when tall corn limits the view at a rural crossing. Tammy Nicholson, director of the Iowa DOT’s Office of Rail Transportation says, “Although trains are considerably taller than most crops, it still becomes difficult to see them approaching at an uncontrolled intersection where the view is obstructed by vegetation or other visibility hazards.” Nicholson reminds motorists to “Stop, Look, Listen, and Live” when crossing railroad tracks.
Contact: Troy Jerman at 515-239-1470 or firstname.lastname@example.org