What makes an intersection dangerous? How dangerous is a "normal" intersection when blind spots, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and heavy traffic are thrown into the mix? The results of a hazardous intersection accident can be catastrophic and motorists should always exercise caution when approaching or traveling through intersections even when they are familiar with them.
Each year there are roughly 2.5 million accidents that occur at hazardous intersections which represents nearly 40% of the total number of accidents. The majority of these accidents involve drivers making left turns. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that approximately 23% of fatality causing automobile accidents occur at intersections. The statistics for accidents causing fatalities and injuries at intersections is a combined 50%.
Red light running is a common cause of intersection accidents. Running red lights is responsible for more than 165,000 accidents and between 700 and 800 fatalities each year. Running a red light includes entering the intersection after the light has turned red, or turning against a light where a right turn is permitted only by a green turn signal. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a telephone survey in 2016 which indicated that 36% of motorists had run a red light in the previous month. In one study that was conducted in four states analysis of red light cameras showed an average violation rate of 3.2 per hour.
A common cause of accidents at intersections are distracted drivers. Drivers who are sending text messages, talking on the phone, fumbling with radio dials, etc. are not paying attention as they approach or travel through an intersection. Drivers stopped at intersections can also lose their focus on the road and become distracted by daydreaming, conversation, advertisements, etc. This can lead to rear-ending, running the light, or failing to notice oncoming traffic or pedestrians. In the United States, it's estimated that distracted driving causes roughly 5.7% of intersection accidents.
Poor design is another common cause of automobile accidents at hazardous intersections. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that poor road and intersection design is responsible for causing 23% of accidents and contributing to more than 8,000 fatalities per year. Poorly designed intersections may have blind spots that obstruct motorist's field of vision and make it impossible for them to see oncoming vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians. Obstructed views are responsible for 7.8% of intersection accidents which is the same amount that are caused by drivers failing to properly ascertain the movements and intentions of other motorists' hazardous intersections.
Poor design may also leave motorists with insufficient room to maneuver which could put their vehicle into the path of oncoming traffic. When a hazardous intersection is poorly designed or improperly maintained, federal, state, and local authorities responsible for the road can be held liable for the accidents their negligent actions cause.
Brad Pistotnik represents clients injured in hazardous intersection accidents in Topeka, Wichita, Goodland, Lawrence, and other cities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Illinois. Our office helps clients pursue compensation for the personal injuries, property damage, lost wages, as well as the pain and suffering an automobile accident can cause.
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