While corn has earned Iowa a global reputation for feeding the world, the tall, slender plants can also cause trouble and death for rural Iowa drivers. Tom Welch, a safety engineer at the Iowa Department of Transportation, says tall corn crops can obstruct intersections and increase the chance for an accident. Welch says there are about ten times as many accidents reported because of a obstructed view at an intersection during the summer months as there are during the rest of the year. Welch recommends Iowans treat rural intersections like they have yield or stop signs, even if no sign is posted. Welch says checking for dust in the air as you approach an intersection is NOT a reliable way of telling if another car is approaching. Rainfall can make the roads wet so that an oncoming car would not throw up any dust. Welch says the numbers show the tall crops play a significant role in traffic accidents on rural roads. D-O-T statistics show only a couple of accidents a month related to obstructed intersections before the growing season, but once the crops come up, that number goes up to about 25 accidents a month. In 2000, three people were killed in 104 accidents reported because crops or trees obstructed the view of drivers on rural roads.
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