Many people assume that highways are the most dangerous place to travel. After all, you drive on highways at much higher speeds than you use on surface streets. More importantly, surface streets are likely not as packed with vehicles as a freeway or Interstate may be during rush hour.
The truth is that speed is dangerous, but it is not the only risk factor. Driving on surface streets means that you will have to go through a large number of intersection. The point where two or more roads cross with one another is actually one of the most dangerous places to be on the road.
A significant amount of collisions take place at intersections
In case you weren’t aware, the national statistics on vehicle accidents make it clear that intersections are pretty dangerous. Roughly 40 percent of accidents reviewed by National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in 2008 (the most recent year with this analysis available) occurred at intersections.
In other words, every time you approach an intersection, you are facing the potential risk of a collision caused by another driver. While this shouldn’t mean that you avoid all surface street driving in the future, it should mean that you approach all intersections with a healthy level of respect.
Failure to monitor the area is the biggest risk factor
According to the federal statistics cited above, the single biggest risk factor for an intersection collision is inadequate surveillance. Roughly 44 percent of these crashes caused by drivers are the result of failing to look adequately in all directions before proceeding through the intersection.
In other words, you should never take for granted that there is no traffic at an intersection. You should check all directions carefully, and perhaps more than once depending on the nature of the intersection. Never assume you know what another vehicle will do. That is another serious risk, responsible for 8.4 percent of all intersection crashes.
Drivers often misjudge what another driver will do. Remember, while the law mandates the use of turn signals, many drivers do not use them. When in doubt, it is always safer to let another vehicle proceed through an intersection before you make your way. You should also avoid illegal maneuvers and make sure to use your turn signals to alert other drivers to your plans.
While there is no way to avoid an intersection-related collision, it is possible to reduce your risk by paying close attention and knowing the risk factors. Driving safely can help you avoid causing an accident. However, if you experience an accident caused by another driver, you may need to consider your legal rights and options under North Carolina law. If you suffered injuries or property damage, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the driver responsible.