For many people, Iowa stands as the embodiment of the Midwest lifestyle. With over 90% of state canvassed in farmland and 4 hogs for every human, it’s fair to say the rural life is in full swing here. Vast cornfields and gentle rolling hills are the perfect backdrop for a life at a slower pace than their ‘coastal cousins’. With a populace so spread out though, it should come as no surprise that the following rural roads are the most dangerous roads in Iowa to travel on.
Three out of every four traffic fatalities occur on rural stretches of roadway. The brutal Midwest winters certainly play a perilous role in the colder months. In fact, November is the most dangerous month for traffic accidents as this is when the hazardous weather truly begins to set in. Here is The Advocates list of the 5 most dangerous roads in Iowa.
Learn more about the 5 Most Dangerous Roads in Iowa:
#5 Gravel Roads
Iowa is near the top of the list of states with the most unpaved gravel roads. These can be a great way to get off the beaten path and see the rustic side of Iowa. Here are some tips for navigating these back roads safely.
- Slow down and give 6 seconds of following distance or more if dust is blocking vision
- Soft shoulders with loose gravel can pull you off the road if driving too fast
- Be prepared to pull over for oncoming traffic at bridges or for slow moving large vehicles
Accidents on these unpaved roads are unfortunately common and mostly due to excessive speed and careless driving. Stay safe and use common sense to enjoy these wonderful back roads without becoming a statistic.
#4 State Route 2
Cutting across the southern part of the state and never straying too far from the Missouri border is SR-2. A two-lane rural highway for most of its route hugged by farmhouses and occasional forests passing through several small towns on its way to Amish country in the east. The following factors put SR-2 on our list of most dangerous roads in Iowa.
- No guard rails or median to protect you from running off the road or crossing over
- Many areas are quite rural with long dark stretches at night
- Watch out for cross traffic, wild animals and farm equipment
Slow moving farm equipment is a common sight and you will even see signs to watch out for buggy traffic. Passing right through the middle of several small towns means local cross traffic is something to be prepared for. Low traffic and a backdrop of farmlands can tempt drivers to travel at high speeds or become distracted, which law enforcement says contributes to the high number of accidents on this road.
#3 Interstate 35
Interstate 35 starts near the famed Amish Country Store and Maid-Rite Diner in southern Iowa. It rambles its way north past the Bridges of Madison County on its way through Des Moines and up past Beeds Lake State Park, home to the most photographed dam in the Midwest.
- Northern portions are prone for extended weather-related closures during winter
- Stay alert in rural sections for animals on the road, especially near dawn or dusk
- A busy thoroughfare for commercial traffic means sharing the road with lots of big rigs
Almost one-quarter of all traffic accidents state-wide involve a collision with a wild animal. While still relatively busy I-35 passes through some very rustic areas where wildlife is common. The combination of heavy truck traffic, rural passages and brutal winter conditions earns I-35 our number three spot on the list of the most dangerous roads in Iowa.
# 2 Interstate 80
Coming in from Omaha and passing through the middle of the state from west to east is Interstate 80. Despite being flanked by mostly farmland, one-third of Iowa’s population lives along the I-80 corridor. This transcontinental highway skirts north around the capital city of Des Moines and near Walcott passes the self-proclaimed World’s Largest Truck Stop.
- Steady stream of large freight and 18-wheel trucks on this route
- Multi-car pile ups are common in winter months
- Interchanges can suddenly back-up and slow traffic
While congestion is not a huge problem, big rigs are common on this major trucking route so use caution when driving near them. Iowa is ranked the 7th worst state for car accidents in the snow so plan winter trips carefully and be prepared for a turn for the worst.
#1 Rural Roads
The state routes and interstate highways comprise only about 10% of the roads in Iowa. Car accidents are twice as likely to occur when driving on a rural route. Although frequently there is less traffic to watch out for they pose their own unique risks to drivers.
- Narrow lanes with little or no shoulder and traffic signs can be faded or obscured
- Limited sight distance, blind driveways and unmarked intersections
- Deep ditches, culverts, trees, mailboxes and tall crops can crowd the road
- Watch out for railroad crossings as they frequently do not have gates or signals
- Expect pedestrians and bicyclists to be sharing the road
It is almost impossible to drive very far without having to take a rural road. Whether it’s a farm-to-market or other connecting route, be mindful of the special hazards on these country roads. Collectively these rural routes have a lion share of the traffic accidents and fatalities making them the most dangerous roads in Iowa.
When to Call The Advocates
Traveling by car is one of the great American past-times. Unfortunately, the specter of car accidents cannot be completely avoided. Should you or a loved one be injured in a car accident, through no fault of your own, you need to act fast to protect your rights. Hiring an attorney who specializes in personal injury is an important first step.
Here are The Advocates, we are ready to stand up to the insurance companies to ensure you receive the settlement you deserve. Let us take over the trouble of dealing with hospital bills, claims adjusters and legal paperwork. Call us today at 406-272-6986 or use our Live Chat to talk with an attorney right away. You deserve an Advocate!