The latest Iowa crop report finds more than 70-percent of this year’s corn crop rated in good to excellent condition. But the crop has a deadly potential for rural travelers, as Department of Transportation traffic-safety engineer Tim Simodynes says it’s a “sight obstruction,” and though some fields have a setback from the road and some farmers clear the view at corners, the visibility isn’t what it was a month ago. Country roads present a seasonal hazard at intersections where that tall crop blocks the view of other traffic, he explains. During the rest of the year, drivers get in the habit of being able to see for miles in every direction. “You know where there’s a car and where there’s not a car as you approach the intersection.” He says most rural corners with their low volume of traffic are “uncontrolled” –they have no stop or yield signs. Though you’re clear to go, the corn may be blocking the view of a car coming the other direction that doesn’t expect to see you, either. The engineer says it’s not the biggest problem in the state, but is something drivers should be thinking about now. He notes often you can look to see the road dust kicked up by another car, but when it’s moist or there’s been a rain that signal isn’t there. “You need to treat it like it is a stop or yield condition,” Simodynes says, “and make sure you can see the road in both directions before you go through the intersection.” There were no fatal country-road crashes last year, but in 2004 the state recorded 17 major injuries in rural crashes, and 25 minor injuries. A total of 63 crashes at rural intersections or farm and rural drives caused damage totaling more than half-a-Million dollars.
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