From signalized crosswalks in cities to junctions on rural roads, intersections often involve unique risks for motor vehicle drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, intersection-related traffic incidents account for about half of U.S. traffic injuries and roughly one in four fatalities each year. In 2019, there were over 10,000 traffic deaths involving an intersection-related collision.
Intersections that do not have signal lights controlling traffic are the most common type of intersection on U.S. roadways. Unsignalized intersections may have a stop or yield sign for at least one approaching vehicle. However, on low-volume rural roads, there may not be a sign or a signal. The FWA reports that unsignalized intersections accounted for 6,737 fatalities in 2018, including 979 pedestrian deaths and 220 bicyclist deaths.
While traffic lights provide an extra level of control and safety, signalized intersections can also be dangerous areas—especially since drivers may not always notice or obey signals. Accidents at signal-controlled junctions account for about one-third of all intersection-related deaths in the U.S. In 2018, red-light-running alone caused 846 fatalities, including 53 pedestrian fatalities and 135 bicyclist deaths.
From speeding and driving under the influence to using handheld devices while behind the wheel, all too often negligent behavior leads to preventable death or injury. In addition to keeping eyes and attention on surrounding traffic and obeying signals or signs, drivers should make sure to watch out for other motorists, pedestrians or cyclists who may not be following the rules of the road themselves.