Stop for red lights warning sign - 165,000 people are injured each year by red light runnersSome view intersections as nothing more than an inconvenience during a busy day. What’s more frustrating than sitting at a red light or stop sign when you’re in a hurry and every minute counts?

Instead of putting safety first, many drivers are preoccupied with beating yellow lights or rolling through stop signs to shave a couple seconds off their commute time. In so doing, they make the road dangerous for themselves, other motorists and pedestrians.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDT) estimates that 21 percent of fatalities and 50 percent of serious injuries occur at intersections. Here’s what you can do to make driving safer at all types of intersections:

Traffic Lights

If everyone correctly follows traffic signals, there’s no danger. But that doesn’t always happen. The USDT estimates that only 10 percent of intersections have traffic lights, yet nearly 33 percent of intersection fatalities occur at signalized intersections.

Furthermore, about 165,000 people are injured annually by red light runners. The red light runners themselves only account for half of those victims.

  • Don’t speed up for yellow lights -- If you’re within a reasonable distance, it’s okay to pass through an intersection on a yellow light. But speeding up from a distance to squeeze through can be problematic if someone is making a last-second turn in front of you.
  • Yield To Pedestrians -- If you’re turning left, just because you have a green light doesn’t mean it’s safe to go. Pedestrians may still have the right-of-way, so look twice!
  • Be alert even when you have a green light -- Even if you have the right-of-way, a few side glances couldn’t hurt in case someone is running a red light from the other direction.

Stop Signs

Running a stop sign can be just as dangerous as running a red light. Intersections with stop signs may not have as many cars as traffic lights, but they’re more dangerous.

According to the USDT, more fatalities occur at stop signs than traffic lights. This is partly because traffic lights are clearer about who has the right-of-way.

  • Come to a complete stop -- Rolling stops might get you to your destination a half-second quicker, but you run the risk of not seeing an oncoming vehicle. That’s why police issue citations for rolling stops.
  • Make eye contact with other drivers before you go -- People sometimes have differing opinions about who arrived first at four-way stops. This causes some to be overaggressive while others are too hesitant. Nonverbal communication can clear the confusion.

Uncontrolled Intersections

Though rare, uncontrolled intersections are dangerous because there are no signs or signals telling anyone to stop. Instead, drivers are supposed to be aware of and yield to one another.

Uncontrolled intersections will typically be T-shaped, but some have four directions of traffic. When multiple cars arrive at the same time, the driver on the right side has the right-of-way.

  • Slow down -- Never go through an uncontrolled intersection without slowing down. Think of it as a blinking yellow light.
  • Stop and look before turning -- It can be difficult to see oncoming cars when turning into a T-intersection. Even if there are no other cars coming, it can’t hurt to look twice.
  • When in doubt, yield -- If you’re not sure if you should stop or go, other drivers might be just as confused. Simply yielding the right-of-way only takes a few seconds and virtually eliminates the risk of an accident.

Any time vehicles are crossing paths, the possibility of an accident exists. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of someone, call the law firm of Hupy and Abraham for a free consultation.

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Jill Erin Wellskopf
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Director of Marketing, Hupy and Abraham