If you are like most drivers, you probably already take steps to stay safe behind the wheel. You avoid getting into a vehicle when you have been drinking or with a driver who has. You leave your cellphone out of your hands while you're driving, so that you can focus on the road. However, even if you attempt to be safe, you can't avoid risk related to other drivers.
One of the most dangerous places to be on a road is at an intersection. While highways may involve higher speeds than the average intersection, the fact that vehicles must start, stop and turn where roads cross one another is a risk factor for many crashes. Thankfully, educating yourself about intersection collisions can reduce the likelihood of experiencing one.
Intersections are dangerous for drivers
Believe it or not, a significant portion of the annual crashes in the United States may relate to intersections. According to data analyzed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from the year 2008, the most recent year with data available, roughly 40 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve an intersection. Although people may not travel at high speeds near intersections, the proximity of other moving vehicles increases the risk of a collision or crash.
This data not only looked at the location of crashes, but also at risk factors for intersection-related crashes. You probably won't be surprised to learn that driver mistakes are responsible for about 96 percent of crashes that occur near intersections.
Failing to pay attention is often the biggest problem
People tend to get comfortable and complacent on streets that they routinely drive. This can result in insufficient surveillance of the surrounding area. According to the NHTSA, failing to properly check the environment caused just over 44 percent of intersection crashes caused by drivers.
Assuming incorrectly what someone else was about to do caused another 8.4 percent, while turning with an obstructed view caused an additional 7.8 percent of intersection crashes. Illegal turns and other maneuvers cause 6.8 percent, "wow distraction" of drivers is accountable for 5.7 percent.
Focus on safety while at intersections
Paying close attention to your surroundings in an intersection can make all the difference for your safety and the safety of your passengers. Watch closely for blinkers, and continue to monitor other vehicles as you pull through the intersection. If you misjudge another person's intentions, driving slow and with great awareness could allow you to stop or adjust course in time to prevent a crash.
For those who end up in crashes caused by another driver's mistakes at an intersection, it may be possible to seek compensation for losses, such as property damage and medical expenses related to injuries. While it may take some time to receive the compensation you deserve, determining your options is always a good idea.