Common Causes of Intersection Collisions
Accidents happen every day and can occur anywhere, but a significant portion of annual accidents occur at intersections, both in busy urban areas with signal lights and on dark country crossroads with stop signs. Why are intersections especially dangerous to motorists? Over 10,600 fatalities occurred at intersections in 2020 alone, and traffic has only increased since the end of pandemic restrictions, including over 27,000 accidents at intersections in Utah in 2021. At intersections, multiple vehicles try to proceed in different directions, both forward and in right or left turns. While intersections often include electronic signals that could fail or signs that may become obstructed, by far the largest percentage of intersection accidents occur due to driver error.
Why Are Intersection Collisions So Common?
Drivers approaching intersections can make a variety of mistakes including the following common accident-causing errors:
- Not looking both ways or inadequately monitoring surroundings to look for approaching vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians
- Wrongly assuming the actions of others, such as assuming another driver will acknowledge their right of way or allow them the right of way
- Misjudging the speed of other vehicles, such as making a turn in front of an oncoming car
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Making a turn despite an obstructed view
- Illegally proceeding through an intersection during a red light or running a stop sign
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving and speeding
- Intoxicated driving
According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 50% of traffic accidents with injuries and fatalities occur at intersections for the above reasons.
Common Crashes at Intersections
Not paying vigilant attention, following too closely, distracted driving, and aggressive driving can all cause a variety of devastating accidents in intersections of all types including 4-way intersections, T intersections, Y intersections, L intersections, 5-point intersections, and roundabouts. The most common types of accidents at intersections include the following:
- Rear-end collisions
- T-bone accidents (side-impact collisions)
- Sideswipe accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Pedestrian accidents
Like many types of car accidents, intersection accidents are largely preventable when drivers remain alert, vigilant, and follow traffic laws.
Are All Intersection Accidents Due to Driver Error?
When investigating liability in car accidents at intersections, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority occur due to driver error or distraction, however, sometimes accident fault lies with other entities such as city and state road maintenance operations. Some examples of other causes of intersection accidents include:
- Inclement weather conditions
- Road hazards, obstructions, and debris
- Malfunctioning traffic signals
- Fallen, stolen, or obstructed signs
- Equipment failures such as brake failure, tire, failure, and headlight malfunctions
Accidents in intersections cause many types of injuries ranging from whiplash and back injuries to Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), internal injuries, and other injuries ranging from mild to catastrophic. It often requires an investigation by an experienced accident attorney to uncover the details of the accident to find the liable party, whether it’s another driver, a parts manufacturer, or a city maintenance organization.