What Do I Need to Know About Intersection Car Accidents?
January 14, 2021
A busy intersection can be very dangerous if motorists do not pay close attention to traffic signals and other vehicles in the vicinity. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, more than half of all car accidents occur at or near intersections. Traffic lights, turn signals, stop signs, and posted speed limits help keep traffic moving safely, but when motorists try to beat a red light, or cut off an approaching vehicle, this can cause a serious intersection accident, including side-impact collisions or left-turn accidents.
Motorists can suffer serious, life-threatening injuries, particularly if the vehicles were traveling at a relatively high speed. If a motorist is injured in a car accident at an intersection, a skilled car accident lawyer will review the details of the accident and recommend the best legal course of action.
What are Common Causes of Intersection Accidents?
When an intersection has multiple lanes, there are cars passing through the intersection, making left or right turns, and vehicles merging into other lanes. In addition, there may be pedestrians crossing the street, and bicyclists who are also sharing the road. There are several scenarios that can increase the risk of a car accident occurring at an intersection, including:
- Speeding: Speeding is dangerous under any circumstances. However, when a motorist is speeding through a busy intersection, this can cause serious accidents, often involving one or more vehicles. In addition, the faster the motorist is driving, the more severe the accident is likely to be. If pedestrians or bicyclists are involved, these accidents can cause fatalities.
- Violating traffic laws: If motorists make unsafe lane changes, fail to signal, make illegal U-turns, turn without checking to see if there is oncoming traffic, or fail to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists, this can cause serious intersection accidents.
- Impatience: Oftentimes, motorists see a traffic light turn yellow and hit the gas pedal to avoid having to wait for the red light to turn green again. Unfortunately, this can cause serious T-bone accidents, which often involve serious injuries, particularly if the motorist was speeding.
- Distracted Driving: This is one of the most common causes of car accidents. When motorists are texting, talking, reaching for something in the backseat, or any other type of distracted behavior, they are less aware of what is going on around them, including changing traffic signals, cars that are making left turns, or pedestrians crossing the street in a crosswalk.
- Drunk Driving: This is extremely dangerous under any circumstances. However, when a motorist is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are less likely to safely navigate the various driving hazards associated with busy intersections.
- Drowsy Driving: Navigating a busy intersection while fatigued also increases the risk of a serious car accident. When a motorist is drowsy, drivers’ reaction times may be delayed. As a result, he or she may not be able to react quickly to another vehicle who runs through a red light, makes a left turn, or any other driving behavior that requires quick reflexes.
What Types of Accidents Occur at Intersections?
Running through red lights, rear-ending other drivers, and cutting off other drivers while making a left turn can result in serious accidents at intersections. The following are some of the most common types of accidents that occur at intersections:
- Side-Impact or T-Bone Collisions: This type of accident occurs when the front of a vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, usually at about a 90-degree angle. The occupant on the passenger side of the vehicle that was hit often sustains very serious injuries because there is no barrier protecting them from the impact of the crash. These accidents often happen when a motorist fails to yield to the right-of-way, runs through a red light, or is distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Head-On Collisions: These are some of the most devastating accidents that often result in fatalities, particularly when the vehicles were traveling at a high speed at the time of the crash. They occur when the front of one vehicle crashes into the front of another vehicle. At intersections, these usually occur when a motorist makes an illegal left turn.
- Left-Turn Accidents: These occur when a vehicle that is making a left turn gets into an accident with a vehicle that is going straight through the intersection. In most cases, the driver making the left turn is liable for the accident since he or she must yield to the motorists who are driving straight through the intersection.
- Rear-End Collisions: These are the most common type of accident, resulting in 1.7 million accidents, approximately 1,700 fatalities and 500,000 injuries each year. They usually occur when a driver is tailgating another motorist or is not paying attention to his or her surroundings. For example, a rear-end collision can occur at an intersection if a motorist fails to slow down in time to avoid hitting a car that is stopped at a red light.
What are the Rules for Right-of-Way at an Intersection?
All licensed drivers have a responsibility to understand and follow the rules of the road, including the rules for right-of-way. At busy intersections, there are very clear rules as to who has the right-of-way and who must yield to another vehicle. Failing to follow these rules can result in a serious intersection accident. Many intersections have cameras that will capture the events leading up to the accident, including whether one of the drivers failed to obey the traffic rules. The following are examples of right-of-way rules that all motorists must follow when navigating an intersection:
- Controlled intersections: These intersections will have traffic lights, stop signs, and/or yield signs that are meant to help keep traffic moving in a safe and orderly fashion. Motorists must obey these signs and signals and yield to the vehicles that have the right-of-way.
- Intersections not controlled by traffic signals: Motorists must yield to vehicles that are already at the intersection. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the motorists should treat the intersection as if there is a four-way stop sign, and yield to the vehicle on the right.
- Intersections with multiple-lane roads: Drivers on the one or two-lane road must yield to vehicles on the multi-lane road.
- T-intersection right-of-way: The motorist on the dead-end street must yield to the vehicles on the through street.
- Highway exit ramps: Motorists who are driving on an access road with a highway exit ramp must yield to the vehicles on the access road. In addition, when a car is entering a controlled-access highway, the vehicle on the ramp must yield to the motorists on the highway.
Always follow the speed limit, regardless of the type of intersection. When a driver exceeds the speed limit, he or she forfeits the right-of-way.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Victims of Intersection Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident at an intersection, do not hesitate to contact the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all of your questions and concerns. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. With offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.