Intersections are designed to help prevent traffic jams and encourage the flow of traffic. They also make it so drivers can more easily get where they are going. Sadly, some intersections are very poorly designed, causing them to confuse motorists instead of aiding them. This is particularly common in intersections that have designated turn lanes.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identified that intersections were particularly hazardous over 25 years ago. During this time, it was found that 50 percent of all traffic accidents took place on urban roads and the 30 percent that took place in rural areas occurred at intersections. However, intersections only account for a small number of all roadways in the United States. Intersections that do not contain traffic signals or stop signs are especially hazardous. At times, drivers are unable to see stop signs because of overgrown vegetation or other things that are blocking their visibility.
Driver Distraction & Error at an Intersection
In studies conducted by the National Highway Safety Travel Administration (NHTSA), it was found that drivers who run a red light or fail to stop at a stop sign were seen to be the leading cause of death in crashes at intersections. Failure to yield when making a left-hand turn is another typical cause. Distracted driving causes other types of collisions, such as those that happen at an intersection.
Despite measures to crack down on distracted driving, the issue continues to be prevalent. Talking on a cellphone or sending a text message while behind the wheel were once unheard of concerns when the AASHTO first began investigating the issue of unsafe intersections in the early 1990s. Other typical distractions include using a Global Position System (GPS) or in-car entertainment devices, talking with passengers, eating, drinking, shaving, applying make-up and other concerns require so much attention when driving a car that the motorist is unable to operate the vehicle safely. Sadly, it only takes a few seconds for a driver’s attention to be placed elsewhere, resulting in them colliding with another car and causing severe injuries — or even death — to someone else on the roadway.
Safety at the Intersection
Every intersection is different, but there are two primary kinds of intersections: those with signals and those without signals. The Federal Highway Administration has developed some key guidelines to help drivers be aware of both types of intersections — those with and without signals. Some of these guidelines are internal improvements that they would like to have made, but there are numerous improvements that the driver of the vehicle can make, at both kinds of intersections.
Intersections with Signals
- Traffic control awareness. Drivers should be aware of the various traffic controls that they see on the road each day. Signals — including traffic lights — should always be paid attention to. White lines on the roadway have been painted to warn motorists of where they should stop. If a driver crosses these lines, it could put other vehicles — or themselves — in significant danger.
- Operational awareness. Intersections are made for vehicles to start, slow down, or speed up. Depending on the color of the light, vehicles will likely be adjusting their speed, staring and stopping pretty regularly. Motorists should be aware and pay attention to these constantly fluctuating circumstances.
- Awareness of other vehicles. Vehicles will travel in many different directions. It is difficult to take notice of all these cars, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Take the time required to look out for other vehicles. Give yourself enough time to start or stop at intersections — or while in traffic.
- Improving driver compliance. Drivers have to be willing to follow all driving directions and regulations while at an intersection. Certain intersections will have varying guidelines, like signs that state the inability to make a left or right turn. In Utah, the most common signs identify the inability to make a left-hand turn at particular traffic signals.
Intersections without Signals
- Improving visibility distance. When you are about to turn, make sure that you are leaving enough distance to make the turn, but more importantly, allow yourself to view all oncoming vehicles. If you can’t see oncoming cars at all — which could happen because of an approaching vehicle — do not just assume that the path is clear.
- Improving gap awareness. In many cases, vehicles will be coming from many different directions. Be aware and cautious of the usual gaps between cars. This can help when making a decision about if a driver can continue straight or make a turn.
- Improving general driver awareness. Being as cautious as possible is always a good policy to follow. You will never be able to know what other motorists are doing, so stay alert.
- Obeying traffic regulations. Laws are in place for a reason. Always keep in mind the laws, and if in doubt, look for any signs so that you don’t place yourself in the position of causing or being involved in a collision. If there are oncoming vehicles, you should yield the right-of-way. If you proceed when it is not your turn to do so — or you do not have the right-of-way — you could cause a serious crash.
- Reducing driving speeds. Speed often plays a role in the severity of car crashes. It is crucial to slow down and take time to navigate your vehicle safely and with adequate control in order to avoid an accident.
Utah Intersection Car Accidents
Intersections can be incredibly dangerous places for drivers. There are nearly 2.5 million car crashes that take place at an intersection each year. Overall, 50 percent of all severe collisions happen at an intersection.
Victims will likely be seriously injured in an intersection accident. Crashes often result in injuries that require extensive medical treatment. This can be difficult if the victim is unable to return to work due to the severity of their condition.
The expert Salt Lake City intersection accident attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen have been helping the residents of Utah for over 30 years. We have won multi-million dollar settlements, and we want to help you, too. Give us a call at 801-845-9000 and let us help you on your claim.