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What Is an Intersection Accident?

An intersection accident refers to any type of traffic collision that occurs at or near the junction of two or more roadways. Intersections can be particularly dangerous areas for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Understanding what constitutes an intersection accident in California and the common causes can help promote safer driving practices.

Types of Intersections

There are several different types of intersections where accidents may occur:

  • Four-way intersections – The most common type of intersection where two roads cross each other, such as South Vermont Avenue and West Florence Avenue in Los Angeles. This creates four entry and exit points for traffic.
  • T-intersections – Shaped like a “T”, this is where a smaller road intersects perpendicularly with a larger main road.
  • Y-intersections – Also known as a fork in the road, Y-intersections have three entry/exit points.
  • Roundabouts – These circular intersections route traffic in a counter-clockwise direction around a central island. Exits are located at intervals around the circle.
  • Merging intersections – Occur where on-ramps, off-ramps, and feeder roads converge with highways. Drivers must merge safely with high-speed traffic.

Common Causes

How to find out how many accidents at an intersection occur can be difficult if they don’t all end in injuries or damage. However, the causes are easier to document. There are a variety of reasons why collisions tend to occur more frequently at California intersections:

  • Right of way confusion – Drivers may be uncertain who has the right of way to proceed through the intersection legally. This can lead to simultaneous crossing situations.
  • Failure to yield – One or more drivers may fail to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic when required by law. Often a contributing factor in T-bone crashes.
  • Running red lights – Vehicles that run red lights are at high risk for severe T-bone collisions with crossing traffic.
  • Stop sign violations – Rolling through or ignoring stop signs can lead to dangerous broadside crashes.
  • Turning errors – For example, wide left turns may clip oncoming straight-through traffic. Misjudging gaps when turning can also cause collisions.
  • Pedestrian conflicts – Drivers making turns may fail to yield to pedestrians legally crossing at intersections. Likewise, jaywalking pedestrians may unexpectedly enter a driver’s path.
  • Visibility issues – Blind corners, sun glare, poorly timed traffic lights, and other visibility impediments raise intersection crash risks.
  • Speeding – Entering and traversing intersections at unsafe speeds greatly reduces a driver’s ability to react and brake in time. This exponentially raises risks.
  • Driver inattention – Intersections require a driver’s full attention. Distracted, drowsy, or otherwise inattentive drivers are more likely to make poor decisions and reactions.

Most Dangerous Types of Intersection Accidents

While all California intersection collisions can potentially be serious, certain types tend to result in greater injuries and fatalities, which is why you might need an injury attorney California from Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys one day:

Broadside Collisions

Also known as T-bone crashes, broadsides occur when the front end of one vehicle impacts the side of another vehicle passing through at a right angle. With little protection on vehicle sides, broadside collisions often result in severe injuries. Airbags and side impact systems help protect occupants, but the pure physics of a broadside crash typically cause greater harm.

Angular Collisions

Angular crashes occur when two vehicles collide at an angle between 0 and 90 degrees. Because forces are directed at obtuse angles rather than straight on, occupants may be severely jolted and injured by the sheer momentum of angular collisions.

Head-On Collisions

Though rare at intersections, head-on collisions result when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions crash front-first into each other. The extreme forces in play during head-on crashes frequently cause devastating injuries and fatalities. An injury lawyer California from Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys in Los Angeles can help.

Multi-Vehicle Collisions

Pile-ups involving three or more vehicles are more likely at busy intersections. Multi-vehicle collisions lead to greater injuries and fatalities simply because more occupants are involved in the wreck.

How to Avoid Intersection Accidents

Defensive driving is key to avoiding intersection collisions:

  • Obey traffic signs and signals at all times. Never attempt to “beat” a changing light.
  • Come to a complete stop at stop signs. Yield to vehicles and pedestrians already in the intersection.
  • When yielding or merging, make sure you have sufficient space and time. Do not rely on other drivers to accommodate you.
  • Focus intently when approaching and traveling through intersections. Scan for hazards and be prepared to stop suddenly.
  • Control speeds. Approaching intersections at safe speeds allows you to brake appropriately for hazards ahead.
  • When turning, watch out for pedestrians and cyclists you may be crossing paths with.

Staying alert and avoiding distractions are the best methods for preventing intersection crashes. Simply being aware of the risks and using caution at cross streets can help drivers travel safely through these busy junctions.

Additional Risk Factors

There are some additional risk factors that can contribute to intersection collisions:

  • Inclement weather – Rain, snow, and ice can make stopping and turning more hazardous at intersections. Reduced visibility is also a factor.
  • Nighttime driving – It’s harder for drivers to see pedestrians, signals, and other vehicles at night at intersections. Fatigue also sets in on long night drives.
  • Teen drivers – Teenagers and young drivers lack driving experience, which can lead to poor intersection decisions. They are overrepresented in certain crash statistics.
  • Impaired drivers – Intoxicated drivers have delayed reactions and impaired judgement, which compounds intersection risks greatly.
  • Aggressive driving – Drivers who follow too closely, speed near intersections, or run lights in frustration are more apt to be involved in collisions.
  • Uncontrolled intersections – Intersections without any traffic control signs or signals rely solely on drivers properly yielding and following right-of-way laws.

Long-Term Consequences

In addition to the immediate physical harm resulting from intersection collisions, accident victims are often faced with a long road to recovery. Injuries like brain trauma or severed limbs may require extensive, ongoing therapy. Amputations, head injuries, PTSD, and chronic pain can produce permanent life changes. Beyond bodily harm, financial, legal, and insurance issues often arise after major crashes. Lost wages from missing work can put a financial strain on families. Overall, intersection accidents impact victims in multifaceted ways, which is why you must work with a car accident injury lawyer.

Being a safe, aware driver is crucial for avoiding preventable intersection crashes. With attentiveness and caution, we can work to reduce collisions at these high-risk junctions, keeping roadways safer.

If you need a personal injury lawyer, contact Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys today.