More than a third of car accidents in the United States occur at intersections. Drivers well know that interweaving lanes of traffic create danger. Even when drivers are diligent about following all the rules for yielding to other road users, mistakes are made by other drivers and accidents happen. Still, it may help to understand some of the most common causes of intersection accidents so that some of the preventable errors can be avoided.
What are the Different Types of Intersections?
There are four types of intersections:
- Controlled intersections have traffic lights or signals to direct traffic from one or more directions.
- Non-controlled intersections are intersections with no postings or traffic signals to direct drivers. Signage may be present to warn drivers as they approach these intersections.
- Blind intersections are hidden from the view of approaching drivers by overgrowth, building structures, or other obstructions. Posted warnings should be present to caution drivers. You should reduce your speed and cross these intersections with care.
- Traffic circles or roundabouts are traffic patterns that send drivers around a jug-handle junction to direct traffic for U-turns or left turns. Often these types of intersections are used in high-traffic areas. Drivers exiting the roundabout must yield to the vehicles in the main road.
How Do Right-of-Way Rules Affect Safety Issues at Intersections?
At a basic level, interactions between road users at intersections comes down to a question of who has the right of way. Generally, a driver must yield to whomever has the right of way, whether that be the driver of another vehicle, a cyclist, or a pedestrian. Right-of-way rules allow each road user to understand how to interact when they find themselves at a literal crossroads.
The rules that govern who has the right of way at an intersection include the following:
- If a yield sign is present, you must allow opposing traffic to proceed until there is an opening for you to advance.
- When turning left, yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians in crosswalks.
- At an uncontrolled intersection with no yield signs or traffic lights, you should slow down and be prepared to stop in anticipation of possible traffic coming from either direction. If you are approaching an intersection while on a private road or driveway, always yield to traffic on the main road.
- When faced with a malfunctioning traffic light, all drivers should treat the intersection as a four-way stop, alternating one vehicle at a time.
- Emergency vehicles using sirens or warning lights must always be given the right of way.
- Buses and postal service vehicles must receive the right of way when they are pulling back into traffic from the roadside.
- Drivers must give deference to any vehicle that enters the intersection before they do. If this is unclear or if two vehicles come to the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield the right of way to the driver on the right.
- Pedestrians deserve the right of way when they are crossing at a crosswalk. This is especially important when turning right, as this action is a common cause of accidents that injure pedestrians, usually because drivers are looking for an opening in traffic coming from their left. Drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians at a crosswalk may incur penalties, including fines, points on their license, and possible jail time. Drivers must also do their best to avoid an accident with a pedestrian even if there is no crosswalk in sight. Even in situations in which a pedestrian is breaking crossing laws, drivers should slow down and allow them to cross.
What are Other Measures Drivers Should Take to Ensure the Safety of Pedestrians?
Drivers should be aware of the dangers their vehicles pose to pedestrians. There are several things drivers can do to keep pedestrians safe:
- Observe safe speed limits.
- Avoid blocking crosswalks, as this may require a pedestrian to walk around your car and into danger.
- Never pass another vehicle that is yielding to pedestrians.
- Keep an eye out for the possibility of pedestrians, especially at intersections and crosswalks.
How can Drivers Avoid Accidents While Turning at Intersections?
Driving through busy intersections can be risky but turning can be even more dangerous. There are a few things to remember while driving to make sure your turns are safe.
Drivers should never cross lanes while turning. Unless multiple lanes are marked as turn lanes, right turns should be made from the right lane and left turns should be made from the lane farthest to the left.
Drivers should be conscious of when right turns are allowed. Turning right at a red light is fine if there is no sign that says: No turn on red. However, right-turning drivers must yield to pedestrians as well as cyclists, so be sure to check for bike riders approaching from behind you. When turning right, turn from the far-right lane to the far-right lane on the cross-street.
When turning left from a multiple-lane road, you must yield to opposing traffic. If there are two cars, each turning left, both should wait for an opening in traffic and turn after passing one another in the center of the intersection.
Middletown Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help Victims of Car Accidents
If you were the victim of a car accident at an intersection, or at any location, you should be able to collect compensation for any injuries you suffered in the collision. If your injuries are especially serious, you may be eligible to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver who caused your injuries. The Middletown car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova can help you understand the limits of your claim and support you in seeking the highest compensation available under the law. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.