Intersections help to prevent traffic jams by easing the flow of traffic. They also make it easier for drivers to find their way to their destination. Unfortunately, some intersections are so poorly designed that they confuse drivers instead of helping them. This is especially common in intersections that contain turn lanes.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identified intersections as especially dangerous more than 25 years ago. At that time, it determined that 50 percent of accidents occurring on urban roads and 30 percent that happen in rural areas happen in an intersection. However, intersections make up only a small percentage of all American roadways. Those without a traffic light or stop sign are especially dangerous. Sometimes drivers can’t see stop signs due to overgrown shrubbery or other things blocking their full view.
Other Common Causes of Collisions in an Intersection
According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA), the three leading causes of crashes at intersections include:
- Vehicle turning left at an intersection, 22 percent
- VVehicle crossing over at an intersection, 12.6 percent
- VVehicle turning right at an intersection, 1.2 percent
Additionally, the NHTSA evaluated critical actions by drivers prior to the crash. It listed the following as the most problematic:
- Vehicle traveling off the road, 22 percent
- Another vehicle stopped, 12.2 percent
- Vehicle traveled over the lane-dividing line, 10.9 percent
- Vehicle lost control because it was traveling too fast, 5 percent
- Another vehicle traveling in the same direction, 4.8 percent
- Driver of vehicle lost control due to poor conditions of the road, 2.1 percent
- Other vehicle traveling in opposite direction, 0.1 percent
The NHTSA further stated that 52.5 percent of drivers meeting any of these criteria were in an intersection controlled by a traffic light and 31.3 were controlled by a stop sign. The remaining had no traffic device or accident investigators could not determine if one was present.
Driver Error and Distraction At Intersections
In another study released by the NHSTA, a driver running a red light or failing to stop for a stop sign were indicated as the leading cause of fatality at accidents in intersections. Failure to yield when making a left turn is another common cause. Driver distraction leads to many different types of car accidents as well, including those that occur at an intersection.
Despite the crackdown on distracted driving, the problem continues to grow. Talking on a cellphone or typing a text message to someone while driving were unheard of problems when the AASHT first investigated the problem of unsafe intersections in the early 1990s.
Other common distractions include operating a Global Positioning System (GPS) or in-car entertainment device, conversations with passengers, eating, drinking, shaving, applying make-up, and other things that take up so much attention behind the wheel that the driver can’t operate the vehicle safely. Unfortunately, it can take less than a second of a driver’s attention diverted elsewhere to collide with another vehicle and cause serious injury or death to people in both cars.
Are you Dealing with the Aftermath of a Crash at an Intersection?
If you have sustained serious injuries or lost a loved one due to the actions of another driver, it’s only right you receive financial compensation. Even if you feel it’s a clear case of negligent or reckless driving, the insurance company representing the other party isn’t likely to agree. The claims adjuster may deny the claim altogether or make a lowball offer that doesn’t come close to covering your expenses related to the accident. At a stressful time like this, it’s a good idea to retain a personal injury lawyer of your own.