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Intersection Accidents: Who is to Blame?


Unfortunately, automobile accidents happen every day. More often than not, they are caused by some driver’s negligence. Roadway intersections infest the roadways, each with its own combination of stop signs, yield signs, or lights, and each with its unique set of dangers. Failure to yield to or merge into the flow of traffic, demanding the right of way, speeding, and running stoplights or stop signs are all common causes of intersection accidents, and will almost certainly expose you to liability or fault.

If you or a loved one has been injured, seriously injured, or even killed in a car, truck, bicycle, or motorcycle accident at an intersection, immediately contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney at Searcy Denney for your free consultation. We’ll help you sort through the strengths and weaknesses of your case and advise you regarding your claims.

What Causes Intersection Accidents?

Intersections are difficult for many drivers, especially new drivers and elderly drivers. Many speeding motorists are in a hurry for reasons that are simply “too important” to be slowed by annoying stops and yields. We’ve heard some people describe the rules for yellow light as “red means stop, green means go, and yellow means go faster.” This leads to a number of “T-Bone” accidents in the middle of intersections.

The actual rule is that if a light turns yellow, you should stop as long as it is safe to do so. Yellow lights typically last several seconds, and within that time a driver should be slowing to a halt. Head-on collisions also frequently occur at intersections, and sudden stops often lead to rear-end crashes. The factors leading to an intersection accident usually include:

  • Failure to obey traffic signs and signals.
  • Failure to yield the right of way.
  • Inclement weather.
  • Running red or yellow lights and even stop signs.
  • Trying to “beat” a yellow light.

Understanding the Right-of-Way at Intersections

Understanding “right of way” is critical for new drivers. Many traffic laws state that the right of way must be yielded, but provide little meaningful instructions beyond this. Generally speaking, “right of way” means the legal right to go first when two cars are approaching each other or have stopped simultaneously.

Controlled Intersections

A controlled intersection is an intersection that has either a stop sign or a traffic signal. These intersections are easiest to determine the right of way because you use the signs and lights as your guide. If you and another vehicle arrive at a stop sign at the same time, yield to the car to your right side.

Uncontrolled Intersections

Uncontrolled intersections are more difficult because there are no signs or signals to guide you. As a general rule, you should yield to cars that are already at the intersection. Whoever arrives first gets to go first. And again, you should yield to the car on your right when in doubt.

T Intersections

A T Intersection is an intersection where a road dead-ends into a crossing street. If you are driving on a dead-end road, you must yield to traffic that is going past from both the left and right.

Multiple Lane Intersections

Sometimes a one or two-lane road intersects a larger road or highway. In these circumstances, drivers on the smaller road should yield to vehicles on the larger road. Drivers should also be aware that larger roads often have greater speed limits than smaller roads.

Highway On/Off Ramps

Getting onto and off of highway exit ramps can be tricky, especially if there are many lanes or they are crowded with traffic. Drivers entering the highway must yield to vehicles traveling on the highway. Sometimes traffic leaving an interstate merges into its own separate lane. Drivers entering the highway should still yield in this case. Entering drivers should get up to merging speed while on the ramp, use their turn signals, and try to select a good merging spot as you drive up the ramp so your entrance is safe and polite. 

You Should Always Yield to Other Drivers Under These Circumstances

  • To pedestrians in a crosswalk
  • To persons using a seeing-eye guide dog
  • At a yield sign
  • To pedestrians in a crosswalk
  • To persons using a white cane with or without a red tip
  • When turning left to yield to oncoming pedestrians, cars, etc.
  • To bicyclists and motorcycle riders

Plus, always use your turn signals.

Trying to Beat a Yellow Light

We’ve all done it, but it’s nothing to be proud of. You approach a traffic light and it turns yellow. Without even much thought, we punch the gas to speed up and make it through the yellow/red light. Most of us experience a feeling of power, having “beat” the yellow light, although we should be feeling a bit of shame instead, having violated the spirit of the law and maybe even the law itself. 

The rule is, if a light turns yellow as you’re approaching it, you must stop if you can do so safely. Failure to follow this law can lead to accidents or injuries, sometimes even serious injuries or death. Try not to delude yourself that saving five minutes will affect world safety. It’s hard to imagine, but your five minutes are just not that important.

Running Red Lights and Stop Signs

Running red lights and stop signs is no joke, and is certainly no contest. It injures and kills people, and the penalties can be quite severe. These simple steps may help:

  • Never try to beat a red light. Follow the yellow-light rules.
  • Don’t slam on your brakes. If you’re doing this, you’re likely not paying attention, and you’re at risk for rear-end collisions.
  • Wait before entering the intersection when you get a green light to reduce your risk of being struck by a red-light runner.
  • Come to a complete stop at stop signs. Don’t treat a stop sign as a yield sign (“The California Roll”). Come to a complete stop and look both ways before proceeding.

Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney If You’ve Been in an Accident at an Intersection 

Accidents at Intersections are very dangerous, commonly because most drivers have no idea what the rules are. So learn the rules and contact a Florida accident attorney at Searcy Denney if you’ve been involved in an accident at an intersection. We’ll answer your questions and handle any claims you may have. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis.

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