Floyd County Deputy Sheriff Travis Bartz says tall corn can tower into a motorist’s line of sight, reducing visibility at uncontrolled intersections. “Whether you can see gravel dust or not, or if the roads are wet, you’re not going to see gravel dust, assume that there is another vehicle, an ATV or somebody walking at an intersection,” Bartz says. “By the time you get into that intersection, it’s too late.”
While that gravel dust can help drivers identify other traffic, it can also create a complication. “If you cannot see the road in front of you clearly, you don’t know — because of the gravel dust — if somebody is pulling out, if somebody is running across the road, wildlife or anything like that,” Bartz says. “Let the dust settle before you continue. Increase the distance between you and whatever is causing the dust.”
According to Bartz, the majority of accidents he’s responded to are with drivers who are unfamiliar with the terrain. Floyd County alone is a home to over 400 intersections — with 300 of them uncontrolled — increasing the risk for a collision. Bartz says frost boils in the gravel, caused by the freeze/thaw cycle, are making this driving season even more challenging.
“Driving your vehicle down the road, if you get in one of those ruts, it is going to jerk your car to the left or the right without you being able to control it,” he says. “If you are driving too fast, it’s going to cause you to go into the ditch, you’re going to bottom out your car, or it’s going to be harder to stop.”
Bartz says the best thing for drivers to do is go back to the basics.
“Every accident has a large degree of human error,” he says. “Stay attentive. Make sure you’re looking both left and right and forward and check your mirrors for vehicles coming up behind you and stay off your cell phone.” He adds, property owners can trim back weeds and grass along the road to improve visibility.
(By Kellan Heavican, KCHA, Charles City)