How Intersection Accidents Happen

May 17, 2019 | David Abels
How Intersection Accidents Happen

Chicago Has Lots of Intersections, and They All Possess a Special Kind of Danger

Driving a car means passing through some type of intersections, on average, every couple of minutes. And quite frankly, intersections are dangerous as they are a hotspot for car accidents. Intersections are busy places—cars are passing straight through perpendicular traffic or making left or right turns, all supposedly timed and organized by traffic signs or signals. Meanwhile, pedestrians are crossing the streets in various directions, all coordinated by different pedestrian signals. All this activity is a clear recipe for collisions, which are quite common in intersections. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) specifically studies the causes of intersection crashes and publishes reports on its findings. These reports by the NHTSA have found many interesting statistics, including:
  • An estimated 36 percent of all motor vehicle collisions take place in an intersection; and
  • error on the part of one or more drivers causes 96 percent of intersection crashes.
Because intersection accidents are so common, understanding what leads to these crashes is extremely important to keeping you and your family safe while driving.

What errors and incidents lead to dangerous intersection accidents?

How Intersection Accidents HappenAs we have mentioned, intersections are dangerous places. It only makes sense, as these areas are the most condensed places on the road where multiple directions of traffic, all types of vehicles, signs, and pedestrians converge. So what leads to intersection accidents? The answer is failing to make sure it is clear to cross or turn, incorrectly predicting another driver’s actions, having your view blocked while making a turning or crossing through the intersection, and failing to act in a responsible way while crossing through. More detailed information is found below, which was pulled from this report.

Failing to check if the intersection is clear leads to 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.

Falsely predicting another driver’s actions leads to 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 use a turn 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 leads to 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 leads to 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:
  • Running a red light
  • Ignoring or rolling through a stop sign
  • Speeding up through a yellow light
  • Failing to yield to traffic when making a turn
  • Trying to make a right-hand turn in front of a bicyclist
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians who have the walk signal
  • Not taking proper turns at four-way stops
  • Speeding
  • Failing to signal
These are only some of the many traffic violations that can lead to intersection crashes.

Driver distraction leads to 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 your opportunity to ‘go’ leads to 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.
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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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