A lot of collisions occur at intersections
We thought it would be a good idea to write an article reminding people how to drive safely through intersections. We're focusing on intersections with lights but the same amount of care and attention is required for intersections with stop signs.
- If the light is green while you're approaching the intersection, slow down slightly and check the cross streets for cars that aren't stopping for their red light, and the left turn lane for oncoming traffic that might turn in front of you. If you get into a collision, it's likely that it will come from one of these trouble spots. Slowing down slightly gives you extra time to evaluate the risks and judge what your best option is
- When the light turns yellow, bring your vehicle to a stop before the light turns red. Driving through a yellow light is sometimes necessary (depending on how close you were to the intersection when the light turned yellow). However, if you are traveling at the posted speed limit, you should never "have to" drive through a red light. If the light turns red and you're still in the intersection, you could have stopped in front of it
- At a red light, watch for the green but don't jump on the accelerator as soon as you see a green light. There might be a flashing green for buses or for the turning lane. You're looking for YOUR green light to signal that it's safe to go; be careful that you're not going to react to ANY green light you see. And, do a quick check on the cross-streets to make sure that no one is about to run their red light and drive directly into your path
- If you're slowing down to stop behind another vehicle, leave yourself a minimum of three vehicle lengths. This might seem excessive… until you hear the screech of brakes from a vehicle behind you and you need to squeeze closer to the vehicle in front to avoid getting rear-ended
- Watch for pedestrians! They might cross when they are supposed to and they might not. Just because they're not supposed to cross doesn't mean that they won't step out in front of you. As you approach an intersection, scan for pedestrians and watch for clues that they might try to cross
- Be careful of blindspots at crowded intersections: When you are trying to drive straight through an intersection, oncoming traffic that wants to turn left across your lane might not see you, because their vision is blocked by traffic in front of you. Watch for those risks. Although you cannot eliminate all of them, being aware of them will help you to eliminate some
There is a lot of activity at every intersection and their complexity can lead to collisions. Use these tips to help you drive safely through each intersection.