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5 Rules You Must Learn to Avoid Intersection Accidents


According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 40 percent of all motor vehicle accidents and 20 percent of all fatal crashes occur at intersections.

So it should come as no surprise that intersections are far and away the most dangerous places on our roadways. They require pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to cross paths at various speeds, setting the table for potentially fatal scenarios.

Take a second to recall the number of intersections you drive through on your way to work every morning. It's a lot, right?

It’s common for drivers to let their guards down when traveling the same route over and over, and that’s when accidents often happen. Everyone on the road — even the most seasoned driver — is susceptible to an intersection-related accident.

But if you follow these five rules, you may decrease your odds of becoming a FHWA statistic.

Crash at intersection
  • Always watch for cross traffic when approaching an intersection. Even if you have the right-of-way, don’t assume every driver will stop at a red light.

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

  • Side-swipes are the other most common accidents. It’s important to never change lanes while driving through an intersection because another vehicle may be turning from a cross street into your lane.

  • A faulty or dead traffic light system creates an uncontrolled intersection — one of the most dangerous traffic situations. Always treat an intersection with a faulty traffic light system as a four-way stop, but be extremely cautious because some drivers may not know what to do.

  • Vehicles aren’t the only ones traveling through intersections. Watch for pedestrians using sidewalks and cyclists using bicycle lanes before accelerating or turning at an intersection.

Intersections require every road user to share the same space. When approaching and passing through high-risk intersections, always be aware of your surroundings to reduce the likelihood of getting into an intersection-related accident.

Brian Scharles, Sr.

TAPCO | Director of ITS Engineering & Service

An industry veteran, Brian holds three transportation technology patents and has managed ITS and signal system designs, installation and maintenance for 25 years. He has experience integrating communication systems for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation fiber optic system starting in 1990 that are still in operation today.

Brian is a member of multiple industry organizations, including the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) WI and International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA), and has won many awards.

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