Intersection accidents account for roughly 40 percent of all crashes in the U.S. Many of these collisions result in severe injuries because while many vehicles at those points may be slowing or stopped, they present numerous scenarios where vehicle actions conflict. One driver is turning left, another is crossing over, yet another is turning right — and the pedestrian is trying to cross safely as well. Wisconsin’s general rules of right-of-way in Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.18 are intended to help facilitate safe, orderly navigation of intersections, but Sawyer County car accident attorneys know all it takes is a single, split-second misjudgment to cause devastating, life-long consequences.
Still, there is nothing inevitable about intersection crashes, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports are more likely than non-intersections crashes to be primarily attributed to driver error as opposed to environmental or vehicle factors.
At Lein Law Offices, our car accident attorneys recognize litigating injury cases can sometimes prove especially challenging when multiple vehicles are involved. Expert witness testimony in the form of accident reconstruction may be necessary to establish crash causation and apportionment of fault, which are often contested. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) reports that crashes at intersections account for 26 percent of all traffic deaths, half of all personal injuries and 37 percent of all serious injuries. An experienced Sawyer County injury law firm can best help protect your rights.
Common Causes Of Intersection Crashes
Like any other traffic safety problem, intersection crashes can almost always be traced back to driver mistakes or even blatant disregard for traffic safety laws, such as running a red light or disobeying a traffic control device.
Top driver-attributed critical reasons cited in intersection crashes (according to the NHTSA) were:
- Inadequate surveillance (i.e., didn’t use reasonable care in observing the circumstances) — 44.1 percent
- False assumption of another’s actions — 8.4 percent
- Turned with obstructed view — 7.8 percent
- Illegal maneuver — 6.8 percent
- Internal distraction — 5.7 percent
- Misjudgment of gap or another’s speed — 5.5 percent
Comparatively, those involved in non-intersection crashes most commonly had problems with speeding or aggressive driving, poor driver performance (overcompensation, etc.) and internal distractions (i.e., phones).
Ignoring Stop Signs And Red Lights
Illegal maneuvers and inattention were most frequently cited by drivers passing straight through intersections with either a traffic signal or stop sign.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that a total of 700,000 stop sign crashes occur annually, accounting for nearly one-third of all intersection crashes and 40 percent of deadly accidents. Seventy percent of the time, there is a one- or two-way stop wherein a vehicle required to stop does not or else fails to yield to opposing traffic. Most at-fault drivers indicated they did stop before proceeding, but that in nearly half those cases, they didn’t see oncoming traffic. (The NHTSA found intersection-related crashes in general were 335 times more likely to involve “turned with obstructed view” as a critical cause compared to non-intersection crashes.) At-fault drivers at stop sign intersection crashes were disproportionately younger or over the age of 65. Car accident attorneys in Wisconsin know that shrubbery, parked cars or sun glare can obstruct drivers’ vision. In some instances, conditions on private property that obstructed view have led to premises liability claims by the injured plaintiff against the property owner. In most scenarios, drivers are simply failing to exercise their legal duty of reasonable care.
Crashes caused by running through red lights are also a serious problem according to WisDOT, which cited that one of the biggest problems involved drivers speeding up at a yellow traffic signal. The statute is clear that you are supposed to STOP on yellow at an intersection traffic signal unless you’re so close you can’t do so safely.
Illegal Turns On Red
Another problem, particularly for bicyclists and pedestrians, is unsafe right-on-red turns. Too many people roll through those intersections without taking care to make sure no one is using the crosswalk or bike lane, or that there is no oncoming traffic. A Wisconsin law that went into effect in 2016 amended Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.37(1)(c)(3). This allows motorists in the left-most right turn lane to also turn right on red, unless lanes of moving traffic are crossed, the signal at the intersection prohibits it, or there are bicyclists, pedestrians or those with personal assistive devices with the right-of-way.
If you’re injured in a crash at an intersection in Hayward or Winter, Wisconsin, our experienced Sawyer County injury attorneys can help determine your rights.