There are a few places where accidents are more likely to occur, and one of those places is at or within an intersection. Strangely enough, if the intersection happens to have traffic signals, an accident is even more likely to occur there. The National Highway Traffic Administration has reported that over 2.3 million accidents occurred at intersections in 2008, resulting in over 730,000 injuries, and over 7700 fatalities. Serious injuries such as spinal cord damage, brain damage, and broken bones...even death...can occur due to a collision at an intersection. The number of injuries and fatalities show what a danger intersection collisions can be, and that we need to be more aware of our actions and driving when we approach an intersection.
A significant cause of a collision within an intersection is due to a driver driving through a red light without stopping or slowing down, and hitting another car. Red light crashes such as this caused 762 fatalities in 2008, as reported by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. An additional 165,000+ people were injured in red light crashes. Here are a few basic statistics that’ll make you hit the brakes when you get to your next red light:
A side-impact car crash, as many intersection collisions are, can result in many injuries from the most minor cuts and bruises, to death. When a side-impact accident occurs, it is likely the doors to the vehicle will be crushed inward. This can result in severe broken bones such as ribs, clavicle, wrists, arms, legs, and pelvis. It can result in internal bleeding and injuries due to broken bones, and/or blunt force trauma. It can also result in puncturing of the eardrum as the velocity of the force of a side-impact airbag pushes air into the ear canal at such a rate that the eardrum becomes damaged. Severe head, neck and back injuries can occur. And of course, depending on the speeds and the vehicles involved, death can also occur.
In order to be safe at every intersection, here are guidelines to follow for specific situations you may encounter:
Each driver approaching an intersection with a stop sign must stop before the line indicating the stop area, or before the physical stop sign. After stopping, a driver may carefully approach and enter the intersection, looking both ways for traffic before proceeding. Right of way shall be given to any vehicle entering the intersection before them, or at any time entering the intersection ahead of that vehicle would cause a hazard.
When approaching a four-way stop intersection, the first vehicle to stop at the intersection will be the first driver to proceed through the intersection. If more than one vehicle reaches the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left will yield the right of way to the driver on the right, who will proceed through the intersection first.
Two drivers approaching an intersection from different highways at the same time will result in the driver on the left yielding right of way to the driver on the right. The vehicle on the right will proceed first through the intersection.
While stopped at an intersection, a driver intending a left-hand turn will yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching closely opposite them, or at any time that not yielding the right of way would result in a hazardous condition.
When a red traffic light is flashing at an intersection, every driver will stop before entering the intersection, following the same rules as if a stop sign were present at the intersection.
When a yellow traffic light is flashing at an intersection, every driver will proceed with caution at the intersection. A full stop is not required, but may become necessary depending on traffic conditions and vehicles present at or approaching the intersection.
A driver approaching a yield sign will slow to a reasonable speed, or stop if necessary, before advancing into the intersection safely. A driver will yield the right of way to crossing pedestrians as well as any vehicle within the intersection, or approaching opposite them on the roadway, or at any time that not yielding the right of way would result in a hazardous condition.
A driver attempting to cross or enter a highway from any private roadway, driveway, or alley will stop first, then yield right of way to pedestrians, all approaching vehicles, or at any time that not yielding the right of way would result in a hazardous condition.
When approaching an intersection with inoperative traffic lights, proceed as if that intersection were an all-ways-stop intersection. If an officer is present, follow the traffic instructions given by that officer.
If you’ve been injured in an intersection collision, the smartest move to make is to contact an experienced California car accident attorney who is familiar with the laws and legalities surrounding this common type of car crash. They’ll be able to help you navigate insurance companies and adjusters, collect and manage your evidence, and will help take your case to trial if you are unable to settle with the insurance company. To get the compensation you deserve, it pays to have an attorney on your side.