An Analysis of Crashes at Intersections

There is a high incidence of crashes at intersections, which represent areas where two or more roads intersect with one another. Cars must do things like cross over the intersection, make left turns and make right turns. Any one of these activities can mix with another vehicle or vehicles at the intersection, resulting in an accident.

Many accidents are the result of an illegal turn at an intersection. This is true of intersections controlled by stop lights and intersections minimally controlled. One study looked at the characteristics of traffic accidents at intersections, looking at different factors such as driver’s age, gender, weather conditions, traffic control devices and critical pre-crash events.

The study uncovered some interesting things. For example, a crash might be caused by an illegal driving maneuver or driver inattention while going through an intersection. Drivers over the age of 55 are prone to misjudging the speed of the other vehicle or the gap between themselves and another. Males at any age have a tendency to drive aggressively, to make illegal maneuvers or to drive too fast for the weather conditions.

About 36 percent of all crashes occurred at intersections. A total of 96 percent of intersection-related crashes were directly attributable to the driver’s actions. Forty four percent were related to inadequate surveillance, 8 percent were due to false assumptions of the other driver’s actions, 7.8 percent were due to turning with a view that was obstructed and 6.8 percent were due to illegal maneuvers. Internal distractions were the cause of an intersection reaction a total of 5.7 percent and misjudgment of another’s speed occurred about 5 percent of the time.

Driver’s age played a role in crashes at intersections. Drivers 24 years of age and younger often had “internal distraction” as a factor, had false assumptions of another driver’s actions, or drove too fast or too aggressively. Drivers between the age of 25 and 54 could cause a crash because of a non-performance error, inattention, an illegal maneuver or inattention.

Crashes caused by drivers older than 55 were caused by inadequate surveillance, misjudging the gap between vehicles or the speed of another vehicle. Approximately 36 percent of the time, the critical pre-crash event that occurred to cause the crash was turning or crossing at the intersection. In about 22 percent of the time, this critical event was turning left at the intersection. At about 13 percent of the time, the critical event was crossing over the intersection at the wrong time, and only about 1.2 percent of the time, the critical event was turning right at the intersection.

Another study looked specifically at intersection safety in part because intersections take on a large proportion of crashes and conflicts between motor vehicles and their drivers. They noted specific and distinct difference between crashes involving large trucks and passenger vehicles. The researchers noted that the volume of traffic, coupled with lighting conditions and intersection angle strongly affect the safety of an intersection. They found that there were differences between car to car crashes, car to truck crashes and truck to truck crashes.

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