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What Causes Intersection Car Accidents?

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Most drivers pass through an intersection many times a day, thousands of times a year. Many do not give it another thought until a car accident happens. The Federal Highway Administration reports that as many as 2.5 million crashes happen at intersections each year across the United States. To put that into perspective, nearly 40 percent of all traffic accidents and 20 percent of all fatal crashes occur at an intersection. Many of these are T-bone crashes, side-impact accidents, and head-on collisions, which all can be severe.

The number of intersection car accidents is staggering. Listed below are the most common causes of intersection car accidents.

Disregarding a Traffic Signal

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that as many as 46 percent of intersection accidents happen because a driver either fails to notice or disregards a traffic light or stop sign. Vehicles coming from the opposite direction often cannot control in time to avoid the wayward driver, leading to serious crashes in many cases.


Many drivers try to make the light by rushing through a yellow light that often changes to red while the vehicle is in the intersection. The NHTSA reports that 18 percent of intersection accidents are due to drivers running a yellow light.

Turning Right on Red

All states allow a driver to turn right on red, but all states also require they do so with caution. Some drivers turning right on red operate as if they have the right-of-way, but they do not. A right turn on red is allowed only when the path is free of oncoming cars, and the turn will not pose a risk to oncoming drivers who do have the right of way.

Prohibited Right Turn

Some roads that are dangerous or have obstructed views do not allow right turns on red or otherwise. Drivers who disobey signs can easily cause an intersection accident.

Failure to Yield

Some intersections have four-way or two-stop signs or yield signs. Drivers who disregard the signs or are confused about handling a four-way stop can find themselves in an intersection accident.

Additionally, two drivers approaching an intersection simultaneously but from different directions should understand Pennsylvania law. The driver approaching the intersection from the left side must yield to the driver coming from the right side of the intersection.

Traffic Circles

Traffic circles can have many different intersections, all of which can cause an accident. In Pennsylvania, drivers who are in the traffic circle always have the right-of-way. Everyone else must yield to them.

Driver Turning Left

Drivers turning left at an intersection are significant causes of car accidents. They must always yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic. In some cases, oncoming traffic may be difficult to see, or the turning driver feels they have time to make the turn. The end result is potentially a severe intersection crash. There is a reason some navigational devices allow drivers to minimize left turns in their travels.

Not Coming to a Complete Stop

Some drivers may slow down but not stop entirely at a blinking red light or a stop sign. Drivers are required to come to a full stop at both devices before continuing through the intersection. Drivers who encounter a blinking yellow light can proceed through an intersection with caution.

Parking Lots

Many parking lots or service roads leading to them may have one-way stop signs. It may be easy for a driver to miss the sign or simply disregard it, causing a collision with a vehicle not required to stop. Some parking lots have no traffic control devices at all, so drivers must always use extra caution.

Weather and Road Conditions

People that live in areas that get a lot of ice and snow in winter need to pay particular attention to intersections to avoid weather-related car accidents. Unplowed roads may make it challenging to see lanes. Snow and ice may make stopping suddenly at a light or stop sign difficult or even impossible. Sometimes, rain and fog will also cause an intersection collision. Drivers must always adjust their driving to the weather conditions.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, particularly cellphone use, is one of the top causes of accidents in Philadelphia and nationwide. A driver who is busy talking, texting, or taking pictures may miss a stop sign or light. Rowdy passengers, loud music, and eating and drinking while driving are also distractions.

Obstructed Views

Sometimes, trees, shrubs, buildings, or other objects will prevent a full or clear view of a traffic signal or stop sign. Drivers must always treat every intersection as a potential slowing or stopping point, regardless of how late they see the signal or sign.

Car Problems

A driver may have braking, steering, or tire problems that prevent them from stopping when they need to. While rare, car defects can cause intersection accidents.

Poor Judgment

Even the most cautious drivers can sometimes make a poor call. Maybe they go through a yellow light or turn tight too quickly on red. Whatever the cause, poor judgments lead to accidents, particularly in vulnerable areas, such as intersections.

What are Common Injuries in Intersection Car Accidents?

The nature of intersection car accidents often result in the following injuries:

  • Bone fractures and breaks: Vehicle collisions make every bone susceptible to injury, particularly those in the legs, arms, hands, knees, ribs, and collarbones.
  • Soft tissues injuries: Muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues can be violently impacted in a collision, causing tears and sprains.
  • Cuts and bruises: Cuts and bruises can happen to any part of the body.
  • Displaced bones: Hips and shoulders are particularly vulnerable in an intersection collision. They may be broken or displaced.
  • Internal injuries: Blunt force impact can cause internal bleeding or damage to any number of organs.
  • Neck and back damage: The sensitive discs, nerves, and muscles in the neck and back can be easily injured in an intersection collision from whiplash and other trauma.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Car accidents of any kind can cause spinal cord injuries, including paralysis and other serious injuries.
  • Head and brain trauma: Skull fractures, concussions, and traumatic injury to the brain are not uncommon in intersection car accidents.

How can I Prove Fault in an Intersection Car Accident?

It is not easy to prove fault in an accident, but it can be done. Anyone involved in an intersection car accident should first contact a local car accident lawyer. They have the skills and expertise needed to prove the guilty driver’s negligence. A car accident lawyer performs an abundance of work to determine the guilty driver’s negligence, including:

  • Get witness statements and testimony. Bystanders, passengers, and drivers of other vehicles often witness accidents and are usually willing to talk or share their photographs or videos.
  • Request police reports, diagrams, photographs, and videos.
  • Acquire traffic camera video or video from nearby businesses that may have captured the accident.
  • Hire accident reconstruction experts. Sometimes, there is a need to reconstruct the accident. An expert will do this to evaluate whether or not distance, speed, or other factors caused the accident.
  • Build a strong case with evidence that supports the other driver’s negligence.
  • Negotiate with an insurance company to get a fair and just settlement for the intersection victim.
  • Litigate the case in court if a settlement cannot be reached.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Victims of Intersection Car Accidents

No one’s life, health, and employment should be negatively affected by a negligent driver that caused an intersection accident. If you were injured in an intersection collision, the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation today. We have offices located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.