You are here: Home / Articles / Safety / General Safety Articles / Intersection Accidents — The Big Killer

Intersection Accidents — The Big Killer

The topic of intersection accidents is extremely important for every person who drives on the road today. Why is this so important? The mere fact that 42.6% of all fatalities involved failing to yield the right of way, passing a stop sign, or disregarding a signal (from National Safety Council's "Accident Facts"). These are all intersection accidents!

How do most drivers perceive intersections? Most drivers see an intersection as two roads where a traffic light controls each road, or two roads where a stop sign controls both roads. A more useful definition of an intersection is "an area where two vehicles can possibly cross." This means in and out of parking lots, inside parking lots, in and out of driveways, in residential areas without any control devices, around buildings, or in alleys. It takes a minimum of two vehicles to have an intersection accident. Let's look closely at the root causes to these "intersection" accidents -- the most serious and deadly type of accidents.

One type of intersection accident occurs with a controlled device (traffic light). You are the driver with the green light, there is a building which blocks your vision on the right, and it is difficult to see if any traffic is coming. You would normally continue to drive through since you have the green light. Upon entering the intersection you see a car which is not slowing down! It is too late for you to stop and the other car broadsides your vehicle!!! The consequences are usually not good. What did you do wrong? You had the green light, right? Since the building on the right blocked your visibility, you should change your perception of the green light to be just like a flashing CAUTION light! The general perception of what a green light means is GO. In actuality, we should perceive a green light as "approach with caution!" Remember, in any situation where your visibility is impaired, reduce your speed and avoid entering the intersection until it is clear.

Another intersection accident which happens all too often is caused by hastiness and failure to judge the speed of the other driver -- the "hasty-pullout intersection accident." You are approaching a stop sign and running late for work or your appointment. You make a quick stop and take a cursory look to the left and right. When you looked left you saw a vehicle, but in your haste, you pulled out anyhow. As you are pulling out, the car broadsides you. What happened? First, your haste caused you to pull out carelessly. Second, in your hurry, you did not properly judge the speed of the vehicle driving on your left. This type of intersection accident takes many lives each day.

Make it a habit to practice the DIA's "1520 Rule" which is your plan to arrive at your destination 15 to 20 minutes before you actually need to be there. This eliminates having to become an "offensive driver" and the need to be hasty. Be attentive to the speed of any cross traffic.

The driver who says, "I have been driving over forty years without an accident" can only be referred to as "lucky" This driver may have never been at the wrong place at the wrong time. During your next drive ask yourself:

  • Am I approaching each intersection at a proper speed according to my available visibility?

  • Am I becoming a "1520 Driver?"

  • Have I eliminated my hasty pullouts?

  • Am I judging the speed of the cross traffic properly?

Remember to be a responsible driver at all times! Drive responsibly and drive safely!

All DIA articles are intended as increased professional knowledge for improving perception of driving and driving skills. This information will not eliminate any accident on the part of anyone who fails to drive according to these principles. Drive courteously and responsibly!