Any intersection has the potential to be of danger to YOU. In fact, the very concept of multiple vehicles proceeding in different directions but converging at a single point might be what you would arrange to happen if you wanted to cause an accident!
What can you do to increase safety at intersections?
Driver etiquette is the first measure toward improving intersection safety. Who has the right-of-way at an intersection?
Emergency vehicles, of course, always have the first right-of-way. Remain stopped and still until the emergency vehicle has completely cleared the area of the intersection. Before you move, check to be sure other emergency vehicles are not following the first one.
Pedestrians always have the right-of-way. If a pedestrian is crossing illegally (jaywalking), nonetheless, you must always yield the right-of-way.
The unregulated flow of traffic always has the right-of-way. At an intersection regulated only by a stop sign at one of the cross streets, the unregulated flow of traffic has the right-of-way.
At intersections regulated by stop signs at all cross streets, the vehicle reaching the intersection and stopping first always has the right-of-way. If vehicles arrive at the intersection at around the same instant, you should yield to the vehicle on your right. Vehicles turning left should always yield to vehicles proceeding straight.
Yield signs do not mean “stop” unless heavy traffic on the roadway compels stopping. Yield means to merge carefully with traffic moving in the same direction that you are proceeding.
Traffic lights come in different colors and different types. The fully controlled traffic light has a red, yellow, and green light in each direction, which controls the flow of traffic. A green light means proceed with responsible caution; yellow signals to prepare for a change at the intersection, most often followed by a red light; a red light means stop. Yellow lights do not provide a signal to motorists to go faster through the intersection. Good judgment must be used to avoid violating the subsequent red light, at the same time avoiding stopping in the middle of the intersection.
Other traffic lights are usually blinking lights. Blinking amber lights alert the driver to be cautious in approaching and proceeding through an intersection. Blinking red lights require that motorists stop at the intersection before proceeding through.
Unmarked intersections that have no controlling lights or signage should be treated as full stops in all directions before proceeding.
Plan your trip correctly. Rushing to make an appointment because of poor planning is a recipe for an accident. Running a red light because you are in that rush is asking for an accident. Plan ahead, anticipate potential traffic delays, and leave early for destinations.
Listen to traffic reports before leaving on your trip. Consider alternate routes of travel to work around traffic snarls and accidents clogging your planned route.
Avoid distractions while driving. Driving requires significant cognitive resources. Your brain is using visual cues, audio cues, and high processing thought just to keep you safely proceeding down the road. Driving a vehicle does not mix well with distractions such as talking on a cell phone, texting, emailing, shaving, eating, putting on makeup, reading a newspaper, or any of the many other activities drivers often try to combine with the job of driving.
Drive defensively. Anticipate problems and situations. Think about what other drivers might do as you approach intersections, particularly when you are altering your path approaching an intersection.
Do not change lanes as you enter or exit an intersection.
Always yield to other traffic when making a U-turn in an intersection or elsewhere on the roadway.
Be careful out there!