This site is all rights reserved 2013 by Michael Moran - Certified Instructor

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So, it should come as no surprise that intersections are the most dangerous places for a driver. At any given  moment, a driver may have to deal with pedestrians, bicycles and other motor vehicles. It creates an environment where all cross paths and requires attention and decision making at a higher level, setting the scene for a potentially fatal scenario.

Comic drawn by: Dave Kellett. Presented by: SHELDONCOMICS.COM

Crashes often occur at intersections because these are the locations where two or more roads cross each other and activities such as turning left, crossing over, and turning right have the potential for conflicts resulting in crashes.

US Department of Transportation estimated that as much as 43% of all motor vehicle accidents happen at intersections or are ‘intersection-related’.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) statistics indicate that 40 percent of all motor vehicle accidents and 20 percent of all fatal crashes occur at intersections.

Side-swipes (collisions where one or more vehicles are turning) are the  other  most common type of intersection-related accidents. It’s important  to never    change lanes while driving through an intersection as another  vehicle may be turning from a cross street into your lane. 

Here are a few things to remember to reduce the likelihood of getting into an intersection-related accident: 

  • Raising your caution level (demonstrate extra caution during congested traffic  times). 

  • Be aware of bicycles and pedestrians. 

  • Be courteous to other drivers. 

  • Make sure you are in the correct lane before you reach the intersection. 

  • Always signal your turn ahead of arriving, so other drivers know your intentions. 

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

  • Don’t be so quick to hit the accelerator when the light turns ‘GREEN’. Release the brake slowly while doing a final clearance check and if safe to proceed gradually accelerate. This will allow additional time for you to check if other cars are coming. Don’t assume everyone will stop on ‘RED’. Many drivers try to beat the yellow and end up running the red light. 

  • 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 an accident if they stop suddenly. 

  • When turning right on ‘red’, make sure the car ahead of you clears. Read-end collisions are one of the most common intersection-related accidents. 

How long does it take to cross or join traffic at intersections?
  • It takes 4 or 5 seconds to cross an intersection from a stop. If traffic on the through street is traveling 30 mph, one needs a gap of about two-thirds of a block in each direction. A larger gap is needed to join traffic when turning right than when crossing. 

Remember, intersections present many hazards for a number of reasons including; traffic maybe coming from more than 2 directions as well as pedestrians and cyclist maybe present.

 

It can be congested, and many drivers speed up or change lanes at intersections causing unsafe conditions.

When approaching intersections, Points to remember: 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • Operators approaching a stop sign must stop and yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection or which is approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard. A stop sign tells drivers that they must stop but does not necessarily tell them exactly where to stop. 

  • 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. 

Crossing an intersection: 

  • Watch for cross traffic. (check cross traffic when driving through an intersection). 

  • Don’t race to beat a yellow light. 

  • Don’t enter an intersection that is backed up, causing you to be sitting in the  middle of the intersection. 

  • Don’t make lane changes until you are through the intersection. 

For example, a crash occurrence may be attributed to illegal maneuver or inattention while crossing  over at intersections controlled by traffic signals or stop signs. 

  • A ‘GREEN LIGHT’ permits the operator to proceed if the way is clear; it does not assure safe passage through the intersection. 

While crossing over at intersections with traffic signals or stop signs, crashes are commonly caused  by a driver’s lack of attention or illegal maneuvers. 

A careful check to the left, straight ahead, to the right, and left again will furnish the driver with the information needed to make a final decision about crossing the intersection.

 

 *  Each intersection is different and may

    require a somewhat different search

    pattern. 

Warning: This is especially true right after the light turns green, as many people are trying to speed  through the yellow light before it turns red. 

  • During night hours, your visibility to see in front of the car in front of you is lessened. During the day, you can see beyond the vehicle you are following behind and can react better to things that may be a problem ahead on the road or off to the side. With limited sight distance, you are setting yourself up to encountering a problem. 

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