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Iowa DOT warns motorists that tall corn stalks obstruct view at intersections

A corn field in Mason City, Iowa.
A corn field in Mason City, Iowa.

AMES – 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 statistics show there were 33 crashes during 2012 at rural intersections due to obstructed views by trees or crops. These crashes killed one person and caused at least 40 injuries, 14 of those were considered major.

Jeremey Vortherms, the Iowa DOT’s state safety engineer, said, “If you’ve lived in Iowa through a growing season, you know that crops can obstruct views of highway and railroad intersections in rural areas. Still, it seems people underestimate the danger these intersections can hold. Entering an uncontrolled intersection or railroad crossing requires an added measure of caution. Be alert and take the extra time to look for other vehicles.”

Vortherms said motorists should treat uncontrolled 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.

iowadotlogoThe danger is not only from oncoming traffic on gravel roads. Trains can be very difficult to spot when tall corn stalks limit 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 “Look, Listen and Live” when crossing railroad tracks.

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