Tips For Safe Driving At Intersections

Tips For Safe Driving At Intersections
Did you know that 50% of all collisions and 20% of all fatal car accidents happen at intersections?

Therefore, it is a crucial part of Illinois adult online driver’s education to learn how to cross an intersection safely.

Driving at an intersection is pretty intimidating, especially if the layout is too complex for first time drivers.

Although it is designed to help ease traffic situations, all the crossing and maneuvers that happen here create situations that can often lead to different intersection-related crashes. And, in case you didn’t know yet, intersection crashes can result in severe consequences.

It’s no wonder that it is considered one of the most common types of vehicle crashes, with an estimated 43% of crashes or accidents that occur at intersections. 

Even if you’re not aware of it, you face major risks of an intersection collision every day. Knowing how to avoid them can help to minimize your chance of a crash. 

But before that, you have to be aware of the different types of intersection crashes which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Collisions between oncoming vehicles
  • Crashes that occur at level or rail crossings
  • Side impact collisions (also known as “T-bones”) 
  • Collisions into vulnerable road users (this includes pedestrians and cyclists)
  • Side-swipe collisions where one or more vehicles are turning.

Causes of Crashes at Intersections

Now, you might want to ask why so many accidents take place at intersections. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Driver negligence and recklessness
  • Running a red light while ignoring the yield and stop signs
  • Drivers approaching the intersection at high speeds
  • Driver’s inattention to oncoming traffic when turning left or right
  • Inadequate sight distance
  • Distracted driving
  • Forestalling a red light by speeding up and bumping on another vehicle
  • Lack of intersection visibility
  • There are faulty intersection traffic lights and signals
  • The driver is unfamiliar with the complex layout of the intersection
  • Weather conditions causing poor visibility

There are a few simple things defensive drivers practice when approaching and crossing an intersection. Here is a list of some of things you can do to keep yourself safe at intersections.

Here is a list of some of the things you can do to keep yourself safe at intersections.

Begin With A Safe Approach To The Intersection

  • Start by making sure you are in the correct lane before you reach the intersection. Be aware of the “blind spots” of the other drivers and stay out of them.

  • Always signal your turn so other drivers know your intentions.

  • Avoid any distractions like loud music or conversation. Keep your hands on the wheel and be prepared to brake suddenly. Stay off your cell phone, do not apply makeup or eat food, and do not play with your radio. Distracted driving is one of the major cause of accidents at intersections, so make sure that you are fully paying attention to the drivers around you.

  • When slowing down, match the pace of the car in front of you. Watch their brake lights to anticipate when they are going to slow down and when they have come to a complete stop.

  • Do not tailgate or rush the light. Tailgating and rushing the light reduces the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, increasing your risk of accident if they stop suddenly. Tailgating behind larger vehicles can also impair your vision so you cannot adequately predict the traffic.

  • When pulling up to the intersection, keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. One car length is recommended, so if you get rear-ended you will not crash into the car in front of you.

  • Inspect the intersection. Look for stoplights, stop signs, turning lights and restrictions, one way signs, road blocks or construction, pedestrians and crosswalks, and bike lanes. Be aware of anything that could potentially create a collision.

  • Watch for other vehicles. Watch the vehicles in front of you, behind you, beside you, and in oncoming traffic. Then look both ways to see where other vehicles are, what their intentions are at the intersection. Be aware of everyone’s motivations, so that you can react defensively while you cross.

  • Keep your wheel straight and your foot on the brake while waiting to cross the intersection.

Safety At A Stop Sign

  • When approaching a stop sign, stop at the painted line or behind the curb.

  • Stop signs require drivers to take turns before proceeding through the intersection, so it is important you understand who has the right of way. The right of way is whoever reaches the intersection first, then goes in turn to the right of the drivers. If there is confusion about who has the right of way always allow the other car to go first or wait until they signal you to go.

  • If there is a car in front of you, wait 2 seconds until you move forward in case they make a sudden stop.

  • Never run a stop sign, even if it looks like there is no one else at the intersection.

Quick Tip: Do you know why you’re supposed to stop for a full 2 seconds? When you’re in a moving vehicle, it can sometimes feel like you’ve stopped when you really haven’t. By stopping for a full 2 seconds, you are able to ensure that your vehicle really did come to a stop. Just count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two”, then proceed if clear. If you follow this quick tip, you’ll never get a ticket for rolling through a stop sign!

VIDEO EXPLANATION: Right-Of-Way For A 4 Way Intersection With Stop Signs

Safety At A Stop Light

  • At green light, do not just proceed instantly. Look both ways to make sure that there are no other cars still going. Look ahead to make sure the traffic isn’t stop. Wait until there is room for your car on the other side of the intersection, do not ever wait in the center of the intersection.

  • At a yellow light, evaluate your speed, the distance to the light, and the time the light has been yellow. If there is time to cross the intersection, proceed with caution. If not, brake. Never “gun it” through a yellow light.

  • At a red light, always stop. Never run a red light.

  • If you are making a turn at a red light, first make sure there are no posted restriction. Then check the vehicles on the left and the right, and oncoming traffic, making sure that your path is clear. Also check for pedestrians and cyclists.

  • If you are turning left, wait for the arrow. If there is no arrow or if it legal to cross without an arrow, be aware of all oncoming traffic before making a turn. Never hang in the center of the intersection to wait to make a turn.

  • If the traffic lights are not functioning, treat them the way you would treat an intersection with stop signs.

Safety At A Roundabout

  • Know who has the right of way. The vehicles in the roundabout always have the right of way.

  • Never stop in the roundabout unless you have to because of traffic.

  • Do not change lanes in the roundabout, always stay in your lane.

  • Always signal your entry to the roundabout and your exit.

  • Be very aware of pedestrians and cyclists, roundabouts can be more dangerous for them.

  • Be mindful of other vehicles, roundabouts are a newer form of intersection in America and a lot of drivers do not know how to navigate them properly.

VIDEO: How To Navigate A Roundabout Safely

When Proceeding Through An Intersection

  • Never enter an intersection if the traffic is backed up on either side. Wait until it is clear to move through the intersection.

  • Never change lanes in the middle of an intersection, this is both dangerous and illegal. Wait until you are past the intersection to change lanes.

  • Never race through an intersection. Instead follow the pace of traffic so your actions are predictable.

  • If a vehicle is stopped at an intersection or in the middle of the intersection, use extra caution when proceeding.

  • Watch for cross traffic, other cars may be running a red light or a stop sign. Always be aware of what other drivers are doing.

If you follow these tips, you will be able to cross any intersection safely. For more information about driving safely through intersections, consider taking an Illinois adult online drivers education class.

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