How Dangerous Are Intersections for Automobile Drivers?

Everyone knows that driving an automobile comes with a certain amount of danger. Nevertheless, unless one lives in a large metropolis with significant public transportation options, it is almost impossible to get by without a car. Plus, when it comes to juggling the schedules and transportation needs for working parents and children involved in school and extracurricular activities, the convenience of motor vehicle ownership cannot be denied.

While driving may be necessary, one strategy for many prudent drivers is to take steps to try and limit the probability of an automobile accident. First, it certainly helps to drive carefully and follow rules of the road, such as speed limits. Second, drivers can learn to recognize dangerous situations and behaviors to mitigate risk when it does exist. For example, by knowing that many accidents are related to distracted driving, one can decide to avoid texting while driving.

But what about intersections? Do they create a danger that should put drivers on high alert? That issue will be discussed in this article.

Intersection-Related Dangers

It probably won’t come as any surprise that intersections are extremely dangerous locations for automobile drivers. By design, drivers are brought together from multiple directions on different highways. Moreover, the danger starts before the roads actually cross one another. Motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians are all engaging in multiple types of movement, creating dangerous situations. The danger is compounded when you add in the negligence exercised by some of the people negotiating the intersection.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) intersection-related crashes accounted for approximately 40 percent of motor vehicle crashes and about 21.5 percent of traffic fatalities in 2017. In October 2020, the FHWA reported that almost 50 percent of crashes involving death or injury occur at or near intersections.

The issue is important and widespread enough that the Oregon Department of Transportation obtained assistance from the FHWA to help reduce intersection crashes in Oregon, which account for 15 percent of crash-related fatalities in the state.

Intersections and Older Drivers

Intersections are dangerous for everyone. However, it turns out that they can be particularly troublesome for older drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one-third of older drivers’ crash fatalities occur at intersections. This number exceeds 50 percent for drivers who are 80 and older.

Causes of Intersection Crashes

A number of variables can lead to intersection-related crashes. According to one NHTSA study, approximately 96 percent of the crashes had critical reasons related to drivers, while only approximately 3 percent had critical reasons related to the environment or the vehicle. Following are some of the critical pre-crash events noted by NHTSA:

  • Vehicle turning left at intersection
  • Vehicle crossing over at intersection
  • Vehicle traveling off the road
  • Vehicle crossing lane line
  • Stopped vehicle
  • Loss of control of vehicle as a result of traveling too fast

As a result of these issues, governments at all levels have spent great resources studying the problem and attempting to design and implement safer intersections. You should always remember to pay particular attention when approaching and entering intersections in an effort to protect yourself from danger.

Call with Questions

While a number of factors can result in intersection-related crashes, many of them result from driver error. People drive too fast, turn in front of other cars, and make a variety of other mistakes that can cause death and serious injury.

If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, you will likely have questions about your legal rights. Please call the experienced Oregon personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield to get your questions answered in a free consultation. And if you need legal representation, we are prepared to fight for you. We believe it is essential to hold negligent drivers responsible for their actions so that the roads will be safer for everyone.


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