Drivers in New York City will pass through multiple intersections each time they get behind the wheel. This fact puts them at an increased risk for accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the primary source for traffic accidents statistics, approximately 40% of all motor vehicle collisions occur at intersections. The NHTSA also estimates that drivers are responsible for more than 90% of these accidents.
The negative aspect of this statistic is that we can do nothing to improve the negligent behavior of other drivers. The positive aspect, however, is that by observing the reckless actions of other drivers, we can improve our driving and reduce our risk of an intersection collision.
It’s worth acknowledging that not all intersection accidents can be attributed to driver error. Things like foliage covering a traffic signal or stop sign, road and weather conditions, poor intersection design, and malfunctioning traffic signals can all contribute to intersection collisions–but there’s nothing that we, as drivers, can do about that. Let’s look at the common causes of driver-related intersection accidents and how we can possibly avoid them.
Driver-Related Causes of Intersection Accidents
Impaired Driving: Of course, you know enough not to get behind the wheel while drunk or under the influence of drugs, but you can’t make the same assumption about other drivers. It’s important that you drive alertly and defensively. Be on the lookout for the erratic movements of other vehicles and keep your distance. If another driver is obviously intoxicated, pull over and report them to police. One should also be extra alert at times when impaired driving is more likely, such as after bars close or on holidays. For yourself, another type of impaired driving to consider is fatigued or sleepy driving. You may not think you’re that tired, but why take the risk of injuring yourself or someone else. Instead, pull over, have a cup of coffee, or walk around until you’re more energized.
Not Obeying Traffic Signals: It’s tempting to think we can make it through an intersection before the light turns red, but it’s not worth the risk. Always slow down when nearing an intersection. This will make it easier to stop when the light turns yellow. It’s also tempting to run or roll through a stop sign when you can plainly see that no one else is around. This is another risk that’s not worth taking. Another car, pedestrian, or bicyclist heading another direction may make the same assumption. The result could be disastrous.
Speeding: The equation is simple: the higher the rate of speed, the longer it will take you to stop or make evasive maneuvers. Always drive at the speed limit and adjust your speed for adverse weather or road conditions.
Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is an increasing problem in the digital age. Talking on your cellphone, texting, and even glancing at a phone or GPS device can distract you from concentrating on the road and your surroundings. Averting your full gaze from the road, for even a fraction of a second, can increase your chances of being in an accident. Distracted driving is not a new phenomenon, it’s been around as long as the automobile has. Eating, applying makeup, adjusting the radio, looking at a billboard, checking on kids in the backseat, having a conversation with a passenger, and even daydreaming can avert your concentration from the most important task of the moment–driving safely.
False Assumptions: Never assume you know what another driver is going to do, and always assume they will do something unpredictable. Never assume that another driver sees you, sees a traffic signal, is sober, is not distracted, or is even a competent driver. Always expect the unexpected and be ready to react.
As we said earlier, even being the most cautious driver in the world can’t fully protect you from another motorist’s negligent behavior. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an intersection accident in New York City, you need to contact the experienced legal team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. Our seasoned attorneys will listen intently to your situation and give you a free case evaluation. Call (212) 986-7353 today.