Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Occupational and Environmental Health

First Advisor

Ramirez, Marizen

First Committee Member

Ramirez, Marizen

Second Committee Member

Peek-Asa, Corinne

Third Committee Member

Rohlman, Diane


Tractors and other self-propelled farm equipment, such as combines, sprayers, and towed grain carts, are often used on public roadways as the primary means for traveling from homestead to homestead or from homestead to a distributer. Increased roadway exposure has led to a growing concern for crashes involving farm equipment on the public roadway. A handful of studies exist examining public roadway crashes involving farm equipment using crash data, but none thus far have evaluated road segment data to identify road-specific risk factors. The objective of this study is to identify if roadway characteristics (traffic density, speed limit, road type, surface type, road width, and shoulder width) affect the risk of a crash involving farm equipment on Iowa public roadways.

A retrospective cohort study of Iowa roads was conducted to identify the types of roads that are at an increased risk of having a farm-equipment crash on them. Crash data from the Iowa Department of Transportation (to identify crashes) were spatial linked to Iowa roadway data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Logistic regression was used to calculate ORs and 95% CL.

Out of 319,705 road segments in Iowa, 0.4% segments (n=1,337) had a farm equipment crash from 2005-2011. The odds of having a farm equipment crash were significantly higher for road segments with increased traffic density and speed limit. Roads with an average daily traffic volume of at least 1,251 vehicles were at a 5.53 times greater odds of having a crash than roads with a daily traffic volume between 0-30 vehicles. (CI: 3.90-7.83). Roads with a posted speed limit between 50mph and 60mph were at a 4.88 times greater odds of having a crash than roads with a posted speed limit of 30mph or less. (CI: 3.85-6.20). Specific roadway characteristics such as roadway and shoulder width were also associated with the risk of a crash. For every 5 foot increase in road width, the odds for a crash decreased by 6 percent (CI: 0.89-0.99) and for every 5 foot increase in shoulder width, the odds of a crash decreased by 8 percent. (CI: 0.86-0.98). Although not statically significant, unpaved roads increased the odds of a crash by 17 percent. (CI: 0.91-1.50) Lastly, it was found that Farm to Market routes increased the odds of a crash by two fold compared to local roads (which make up roughly 67 percent of Iowa public roads). (CI: 1.72-2.43) When the same model was stratified by rurality (urban/rural), it was found that high traffic density leads to a higher risk of a crash in rural areas. Iowa routes and Farm to Market routes had a greater odds of a crash in urban than rural areas, and road and shoulder width were more protective in rural than urban areas. When only using roads with a crash involving an injury versus all other roads as the outcome, Iowa routes and roads with increased speed limits had higher odds for an injury-involved crash, while increased road width were more protective against crashes involving injuries.

Findings from the study suggest that several roadway characteristics were associated with farm-equipment crashes. Through administrative and engineering controls, the six static explanatory variables used in this study may be modified to decrease the risk of a farm equipment crash. Speed limit can be modified through administrative controls while traffic density, road and shoulder width, road type, and surface type can be modified through engineering controls. Results from this study provide information that will aid policy-makers in developing safer roads for farm equipment.


Farm Equipment, GIS, Public Health, Roadway


viii, 54 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 52-54).


Copyright 2014 Mitchell Greenan