Washington, D.C., Intersection Accident Attorney

A D.C.-Area Car Accident Lawyer Helping Victims Recover Compensation

Anytime vehicles are traveling perpendicular to one another—when one vehicle is traveling along a road and another vehicle is traveling along a road that crosses the first vehicle’s road—there is an enhanced risk of a collision. Most such intersections are governed by traffic signals or stop signs. The problem, of course, is that people don’t always see—or obey—these traffic signals. People run red lights, trying to make it through a yellow before it turns to red and failing miserably when the light actually turned red before they even entered the intersection. Likewise, they often roll through stop signs, slowing down but not stopping, and blowing through without adequately checking for cross traffic that has the right of way.

Accidents at intersections are responsible for more than 20 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States each year, and 40 percent of all traffic accidents. Many of these accidents involve only two vehicles. From 1997 through 2004, federal statistics tallied about 800 fatalities each year in accidents at intersections that involved only two vehicles. In those accidents, one of the drivers ran a red light. Another 1,336 fatalities occurred during that period where one of the drivers ran a stop sign.

Intersection accidents from 1997 through 2004 resulted in annual fatalities of about 2,982 at intersections with traffic lights, comprising roughly 30 percent of all intersection deaths. About 38 percent of intersection fatalities, averaging 3,643 deaths each year, took place at intersections governed by stop signs, and 2,593 fatalities, or about 27 percent of the total deaths, happened at intersections that did not have traffic lights or stop signs.

Why Are Intersection Accidents so Common?

Any time roads cross, you have vehicles traveling in different directions that put them at risk of collision. Most roads—excluding one-way streets—have vehicles traveling in different directions, but the many those have vehicles traveling in opposite directions. While these roads feature their own problems, intersections are different. There, obviously, the vehicles are traveling in different directions, but the vehicles are not coming directly at one another from opposite directions. In essence, they are approaching each other from the side. In the first situation, if you stay in your lane, everyone is fine, but in the second, drivers must pay attention to and obey traffic signals. Where there are no traffic signals, drivers must pay close attention to crossing traffic. Sadly, in both situations, drivers fail to pay attention enough to avoid an accident with intersecting traffic.

In fact, the federal government estimates that roughly 40 percent of 5.8 million traffic accidents that happened in 2008 occurred at intersections. About 96 percent of those accidents were attributed to driver error. That percentage is close to the percentage of non-intersection accidents caused by driver error. However, the types of driver errors in intersection-related crashes versus non-intersection-related crashes differ dramatically.

For intersection-related crashes where driver error was determined to be the cause, the most common factor was failure to pay adequate attention, with this factor resulting in more than 44 percent of intersection-related accidents. In the remaining driver-error intersection accidents, more than 8 percent resulted from drivers making false assumptions about what the other driver was going to do, followed by turning with an obstructed view (nearly 8 percent), performing an illegal maneuver (nearly 7 percent), a distraction within the car, such as cell phone, climate control, sound system or passenger conversation (more than 5 percent), and misjudging the other driver’s speed, at about 5 percent.

Causes of accidents related to driver error that did not occur at intersections were dramatically different. Driving too fast for conditions or aggressive driving caused nearly 23 percent, while performance errors or poor direction control caused nearly 16 percent of accidents not involving intersections. Internal distractions caused another 13 percent. Failure to pay attention at intersections can be at worst fatal and at best result in significant injuries and damages.

Older drivers appear to be more at risk for intersection-related accidents. In fact, drivers over the age of 65 were involved in 31 percent of all fatal accidents happening at intersections. That compares to only 13 percent of all accidents that happened at places other than at intersections.

How Can You Avoid Intersection Traffic Accidents?

It might not seem fair, but avoiding traffic accidents at intersections rests largely on you. You cannot assume that other drivers will do the right thing. You have to expect people to run red lights and stop signs or turn left, even after stopping, when they do not have enough room or time to do so safely. In other words, you have to keep yourself safe by being vigilant. This includes:

  • Watch traffic on crossing roads when you come to an intersection. Even when you have the green light or the right of way, you can’t assume the other driver will stop properly.
  • If you are turning right on a red light, be sure that the car ahead of you that also is turning right on the red has already cleared the intersection before you proceed. Avoid the rear-end collision.
  • When you are turning through an intersection, be sure to stay in your lane, and be on the lookout for other drivers who are not staying in their lane. Sideswipe accidents rank with rear-end collisions as among the most common intersection accidents.
  • If a traffic signal has failed and is either dark or blinking red in all directions, treat the signal as a four-way stop. Don’t proceed until it is clear that everyone else is treating the signal the same way. Be aware whether other drivers think you have the right of way when you think you have the right of way.

Ultimately, you have to take intersection safety into your own hands. When that fails, though, and you are involved in an intersection accident, you should consider seeking help to determine if you are entitled to compensation.

Reach Out to The Abelson Law Firm if You Have Been Injured in an Accident

If you were injured in an accident at an intersection, consult an attorney to see if you can recover compensation for your injury. You might hold another driver liable for your injury, depending on circumstances. Attorney Michael A. Abelson at The Abelson Law Firm has helped many people recover compensation after their car accidents. Call him at (202) 331-0600 or write him through our online contact form.


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