Intersections are innately dangerous because they involve multiple lanes of traffic crossing each other. Stop signs, yield signs and traffic lights help manage the flow of traffic through intersections, yet collisions at intersections remain very common. In fact, research consistently shows that roughly a quarter of all traffic fatalities tend to occur at intersections each year. Municipalities have started making major changes to road design to reduce the risk generated by intersections, like installing roundabouts so that different roads don’t cross each other directly.
Those who understand why intersection crashes are so common may have an easier time protecting themselves at these relatively dangerous locations. The following are the most common driving errors that contribute to many intersection collisions.
Failing to observe one’s surroundings
All too often, motorists simply assume that they have the right of way when approaching an intersection. Especially when someone is close to their home or place of employment, they may take for granted that they can approach the intersection with minimal time to observe their surroundings. Inadequate surveillance is one of the top reasons that intersection collisions occur.
Making faulty assumptions
Even when people do look at oncoming traffic and nearby pedestrians as they approach an intersection, they may make inaccurate assumptions about what the other people intend to do. Perhaps they failed to notice someone’s turn signal or do not understand the hand signals used by cyclists to indicate a turn. Drivers who assume they know what someone else will do at an intersection may end up causing a crash that they could have prevented if they looked more closely or waited a bit longer.
Failing to stop or signal
A surprising number of drivers will perform a rolling stop when they approach an intersection even if they should come to a complete stop because of the signage or lights facing their lane of traffic. Many others will directly contribute to collisions by failing to use their turn signals to indicate to others what they intend to do. Many safety experts recommend engaging in defensive driving at intersections by taking an extra second to check the other lanes of traffic. Those who choose to wait when someone else’s intentions are unclear might potentially avoid a crash by pausing a few seconds and letting that other driver proceed through the intersection first.
When intersection crashes do occur, the motorist who violated safety rules for traffic laws will often be the one who is liable. Pursuing a claim against an at-fault driver can help people cover the multiple expenses generated by an intersection collision.