Common causes of intersection car accidents and how to avoid them

According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, more than half of all motor vehicle collisions resulting in injuries or fatalities occur at intersections.

intersection car accident

Fortunately, the causes of intersection collisions are largely preventable, and being aware of them can help you take the necessary steps to avoid them. Continue reading to learn more, then contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates if you need legal advice after an intersection crash.

Top causes of car accidents at intersections

Intersections involve complex interactions among multiple vehicles, pedestrians, and other objects in a limited amount of space. As a result, it only takes one misstep for an intersection accident to occur. Let’s look at some of the common causes.

Incorrect judgments

When approaching an intersection, drivers need to make snap judgments about when and where to turn. Factors such as crowded or dark intersections and unfamiliar roads can cloud drivers’ thinking in the split second before they must act, resulting in an otherwise avoidable collision.

View obstructions

Drivers making left turns often struggle to see oncoming traffic, especially if there are trees, signs, or buildings in the way. Likewise, drivers making right turns may struggle to see pedestrians crossing the intersection, only to notice them when it’s too late.

Erratic driving

While some intersection car accidents result from honest mistakes, some drivers knowingly act recklessly when approaching intersections. The actions of drivers who exceed the speed limit, make illegal turns, or weave through traffic can be unpredictable. These actions make it difficult for others to reasonably anticipate the driver’s next move, thus making a crash more likely.

Disobeying traffic signals

Red lights, stop signs, and other traffic signals exist to carefully control the flow of traffic at intersections, but they only work when everyone obeys them. Drivers who run red lights create a potentially catastrophic situation because those at the intersection have no warning of their approach.

Distracted driving

Phone calls, text messages, and other forms of digital communication are all too tempting — and distracting — when you’re driving. It takes only a few seconds of distraction to cause a collision, and every moment matters when you’re at an intersection.

If a driver’s focus is on anything but the road, they may be less likely to notice that a traffic light has turned red, causing them to strike a vehicle that’s legally crossing on a green light.

Impacts of intersection car accidents

Accidents that occur at intersections are often some of the most severe. Head-on collisions and T-bone accidents are more likely to occur in intersections than in any other setting, both of which involve the full force of two moving vehicles colliding. Consequently, victims of these types of collisions often suffer life-altering injuries — such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage — and some even lose their lives.

These accidents may also result in more significant property damage than those that occur at non-intersections. It’s not uncommon for multiple vehicles to be involved in intersection crashes, and those vehicles may be wedged together or crumpled beyond repair. Those involved may file insurance claims to obtain reimbursement for their losses, but their insurance providers may decide to increase their rates, making it that much more expensive to stay on the road.

There’s also a community-wide impact of increased traffic congestion and delays. Whereas accidents that occur away from intersections may only impact a single lane, intersection accidents can bring multiple directions of traffic to a standstill, resulting in longer commutes for everyone who needs to pass through.

Avoiding intersection accidents

The best way to avoid an intersection car accident is to practice defensive driving. Don’t rely solely on the traffic light for guidance — make sure it’s safe to proceed before entering the intersection. Look ahead and to the left and right for other drivers who may have failed to yield or stop, and be prepared to brake, if necessary.

If you’re making a turn, always use your turn signal and check your mirrors to make sure other drivers are aware of your intentions. Pay extra attention and reduce your speed slightly when approaching intersections at night, in heavy traffic, or on unfamiliar roads. And, as always, put your phone away and focus on driving.

Talk to our attorneys if you’ve been injured

Intersection car accidents can result in immense physical, emotional, and financial harm to victims and their families. While no amount of money can undo the damage caused by another person’s negligence, obtaining compensation may help to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with the accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an intersection car accident, Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates may be able to help you pursue a personal injury claim. Contact us at (800) 985-1819 for a free consultation and explore your legal options with a Chicago car accident attorney today.