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How Intersection Accidents Happen

You pass through numerous intersections every time you drive your vehicle. Because of the amount of activity in intersections—cars may pass straight through or turn, all supposedly timed and organized by traffic signs or signals, and pedestrians may also cross the street in various directions, directed by separate walk signals to which drivers may not pay close attention—collisions are quite common in these locations. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) specifically studies the causes of intersection crashes and publishes reports on its findings. Basic statistics include:

  • An estimated 36 percent of all collisions take place in intersections
  • Error on the part of one or more drivers causes 96 percent of intersection crashes

Because one or more drivers cause so many intersection accidents, take a closer look at the most common errors that lead to these crashes.

Inadequate surveillance – 44.1 percent of intersection crashes. When a driver should look certain directions before completing a certain action but fails to do so, inadequate surveillance results. At an intersection, this most commonly occurs when a driver should look for oncoming traffic before making a turn but fails to adequately do so. This can also include drivers who claim they looked but did not see oncoming cars. Inadequate surveillance commonly causes pedestrian accidents at intersections, because a driver may not sufficiently stop and check for any pedestrians before turning over a crosswalk.

False assumption of the actions of other drivers – 8.4 percent of intersection crashes. In some situations, a driver may incorrectly guess what another driver will do. For example, at a four-way stop sign, one driver may go, believing the other driver will yield—then both drivers accelerate at the same time and crash into one another. Or a driver who fails to signal may give another driver the impression that he is driving straight through the intersection when he is actually going to turn, resulting in a collision. Fault in these cases may lie with the assuming drivers or of the other drivers who fail to adequately make their intentions known.

Having an obstructed view while turning – 7.8 percent of intersection crashes. While drivers may face obstructed views whether they turn left or right, this type of accident most commonly involves one driver making a left-hand turn. Oncoming vehicles waiting to make turns, hills, buildings, and other factors can obstruct a driver’s view. Often, a driver will simply make a left-hand turn without knowing whether the coast is clear. In other situations, the turning driver may have had plenty of time to turn, but an oncoming driver sped up or came out of nowhere. Always determine which driver is responsible for this type of crash on a case-by-case basis.

Illegal driving behaviors – 6.8 percent of intersection crashes. For traffic to move through intersections smoothly and without collisions, all drivers must obey all traffic signals and rules of the road. Unfortunately, we all know that some drivers violate the law and such illegal driving behaviors commonly cause intersection accidents. Common illegal maneuvers include:

These are only some of the many traffic violations that can lead to intersection crashes.

Driver distraction – 5.7 percent of intersection crashes. We know that distracted driving is an epidemic in Chicago—and throughout the United States. Drivers can become distracted at any time, including at intersections. When drivers allow something to distract them, they do not pay attention to what’s going on around them on the road. This can create serious dangers at intersections where so much happens. When drivers are inadequately aware of the cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians around them, they can make mistakes that cause them to crash.

Misjudging another driver’s speed or a gap in traffic – 5.5 percent of intersection crashes. Not every intersection requires drivers to wait for a green arrow to turn. Instead, at many intersections, a driver may simply need to yield to oncoming traffic and use good judgment for when it is safe to turn. This can create dangerous situations when drivers misjudge whether they have time to turn. Sometimes, drivers may simply think they have bigger gaps in which to turn than they do and may end up colliding with oncoming cars. In other situations, a driver may make a judgment based on the expected speed limit of the road when, in reality, the oncoming driver is speeding and comes flying into the intersection faster than expected. Examine fault based on the circumstances of the specific accident.

Call for a Free Consultation With a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Today

If a negligent driver hit you in an intersection—or anywhere else on the road—discuss your options with a car accident attorney who is familiar with these cases in Chicago. The team at Abels & Annes is here to help, so please contact us online or give us a call at (312) 924-7575 to schedule your free case evaluation with a member of our legal team as soon as possible.