According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), over 50 percent of crashes involving a fatality or injury happen in or near intersections, an astounding two million intersection crashes per year. What makes intersections so dangerous? Better yet, what can you do to avoid becoming part of the statistic?
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published in 2010, 96 percent of intersection-related crashes were due to driver error. In more than half of those crashes, it was attributed to recognition error — failure to pay attention, internal or external distractions, or failure to properly look before proceeding.
Causes Of Intersection-Related Crashes
Twenty-nine percent of intersection-related crashes were due to a decision error – people turning without signaling, changing lanes erratically, turning right through too small a gap or forcing oncoming traffic to brake.
Some drivers inch their way into an intersection, wait to turn left and only turn after the light has turned red. Some drivers try to run yellow lights only to find that other drivers have also run the light, causing a collision. Some drivers are moving too quickly to react. All qualify as decision errors.
Fatal Intersection Crashes
From 1997 through 2004, the NHTSA reported almost 64,000 fatalities from over 57,000 crashes within intersections — roughly 7,000 fatalities every year. The overwhelming majority of these fatal crashes weren’t due to faulty cars or broken traffic signals but human error.
What errors are most likely to cause a fatal intersection crash? According to the NHTSA’s study, the most common mistakes are failure to obey traffic signals (62 percent) and properly yielding to other traffic (87 percent) but we also know that behaviors like driving fatigued are common and detrimental.
Avoiding Intersection Crashes
The most important thing any driver can do to avoid intersection crashes is relax. Most crashes are caused by aggressive driving, making it harder to assess a situation at the intersection. There are more cars involved and they’re moving in different directions. It’s hard to assess your surroundings at speed, so don’t — slow down.
This goes for yellow lights, too. Running a yellow light might save you a minute or two, but at the risk that someone else is running the same yellow in the other direction. If a collision occurs, it’ll be head-on and you’ll both be accelerating — the worst situation for driver safety.
Safe Driving Best-Practices
Pick a lane and stay in it – not just good life advice, but a tip to keep you safe on the road. This becomes even more important when there’s a large vehicle involved
Signal your turns. There’s no reason to keep which direction you’re turning to yourself so let other drivers know what you intend to do. You can prevent confusion and danger by doing so.
Keep distractions to a minimum. Turn your music down; apply your makeup at home; don’t try and come up with your next great playlist. Intersections aren’t an excuse to check your phone — failure to pay attention to changing lights and traffic can cause crashes too.
Expect trouble at intersections. They’re complicated and hectic. Don’t assume that everyone follows the rules — look around to confirm that they are.
Where Continuous Driver Monitoring Fits
If you want to keep your drivers safe, make your expectations clear. Explain your driver policy clearly and succinctly, letting everyone covered by the policy know what consequences exist if violating the rules.
Continuous driver monitoring alerts you almost immediately if one of your drivers commits a moving violation. You’ll be able to keep tabs on anyone driving for your company or those you’re considering hiring, empowering you with actionable insight to make more informed decisions.
Ensure only the safest individuals are driving on behalf of your company by downloading our white paper and learning more about key driver risk management best practices.