Today as I drove to town, I came to a corner that forced me come to a complete stop. If you are a “city” person you will not understand that statement but to a “country” person you will.
You see in the countryside where people are not very prevalent in an area it is not necessary to come to a complete stop at every cross section. Usually that is. But this time of year, when the large growing crops such as corn and sunflowers are at their highest, it is.
Now this seems logical doesn’t it? I mean shouldn’t a person come to a stop at all intersections for safety? While in a town or city it’s not only common but a legal driving law to stop at each intersection whether because of a stoplight or stop sign; in rural areas it is not. In fact, it’s a down right nuisance to have to stop at each cross road because traffic is so small. In my area it’s normal to be able to drive the whole distance without ever coming across anyone on either the road you’re driving or any cross section of road.
So when a corner is normally traversed without problems when there is no crop around; it can over the course of a summer change dramatically. This happens when these crops reach heights at or above the vehicle you are driving. As a person who’s lived for over thirty years in a rural area can tell you, the seven mile trip to town can become quite a hazard when these large crops reach maturity toward the end of their cycle.
As far as I am aware of, there are no laws or legal statutes to protect the drivers of these rural roads when these crops become a road hazard. Still; it’s been the practice of farmers for years to “cut out” the corners of those dangerous fields of low visibility intersections to allow a better view of possible oncoming traffic. By that I mean they will cut down a portion of the growing crop at a corner to allow better sight of an oncoming vehicle at that cross road.
And while the traffic may not be dense at any given time it only takes one too many cars to cause a fatal accident on these roads. One of the biggest mistakes people make out here in this and other rural areas is to believe you are the only one on these roads. Many lives have been lost to that idea. A statistic of the Federal Highway Administration puts two thirds of accidents at unsignalized intersections fatal in urban areas and a ninety percent fatality to rural areas! That statistic alone should give our area pause.
So farmers are usually courteous enough to cut out the corner or to plant a low growing crop; seen overhead easily when these issues come up. This practice is where a farmer will cut the corner to the ground of that large crop to allow for better visibility of drivers on that particular corner. I say the word usually because I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the last several years that makes me give pause to the idea that farmers are being “neighborly”. I have noticed that almost no corners in my area are now cut out to allow for better sight. And while it is their land and it is their right to plant any legal crop they wish on said land; it’s an abomination to not think of your fellow man when regard to safety!
I have been appalled at the lack of thoughtful people in recent years when it comes to this matter. And I find that there seems to be no one who will try to amend this issue or even to take up a petition to the county officials about this “growing” problem.
Because it is a dangerous situation. Maybe not to most but to the few that live out here; those that go to work in town each day; it surely is.
And what about the teen age drivers? Do you think them as safe a driver as their parents? Do you think they might be the ones to die because of greed? Because that is exactly what this issue is; Greed.
I wonder if the farmers that I speak of will find any solace in the fact that a couple of swaths of crop might assuage their guilt when a neighbor or friend dies because of this. Do they think of that when they are planting this crop? That it’s not their problem? That it won’t affect them? Does it bother them that this person may die right beside their field because of these farming practices?
The sad thing about this world is that we don’t seem to think enough of others. We don’t seem to think at all it about others safety; just what we can get away with legally. No morals seem to be present as long as we are legally protected. Unfortunately that idea may well be incorrect. I don’t think that a person that has a field that causes an impediment to seeing oncoming traffic has a leg to stand on when they get sued. I believe that the survivors will have a valid lawsuit if something like this does happen. And in this small community it won’t just affect the parties involved but will touch everyone. Because we are a close knit community that knows everyone, either by relation, being friends or neighbors.
But it shouldn’t have to come to that should it? Where has our humanity gone when greed takes over our thinking and compassion for our fellow man is no where to be found? And will it take a percentage of deaths before someone actually does a head count of the dead? Will it take a mandate from the legal system above before someone sees the danger on our rural roads or will common sense prevail and a law gets passed before many more die each year?
I just hope that someone will actually do something to amend this horrific lack of judgment that our farmers are showing before someone dies at a rural corner of this land we call home.
Kim Weninger Associated Content
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/unsignalized/presentations/unsig_pps_041409/short.cfm WHWA Safety