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Why Do So Many Car Accidents Happen in Intersections?

Car accidents can happen anywhere – on highways, on local roads, even in parking lots. One of the most common places for car accidents is an intersection.

Traffic statistics indicate that intersection accidents are among the deadliest types of traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s latest data, nearly 40% of all accidents are intersection accidents. The NHTSA states that intersection accidents generally involve right turns, left turns, and crossovers (traveling straight through the intersection). If you are injured in a wreck at or in an intersection, call us for help.

Why do car, truck, and motorcycle accidents happen at intersections?

Accidents at intersections, according to the NHTSA study, are often due to:

  • Obstructed views such as overhanging trees or shrubbery that block your view. Views may also be obstructed by other vehicles (such as tall trucks) or by work crews.
  • An illegal maneuver such as speeding, failing to understand who has the right of way, and failing to honor the right of way of another driver.
  • Making a false assumption about another driver’s action such as whether they intend to go straight or turn and when they are going to enter the intersection.
  • Driver distraction which may be due to talking or texting on a cellphone, eating, drinking, adjusting the radio or entertainment system, or looking at a GPS system.
  • Some internal distractions such as a conversation with someone in the car or being attentive to a child in the vehicle.
  • An external distraction such as road repair, loud sounds, or another accident.
  • Misjudging distances.
  • Misjudging the speed of another driver.

Other causes of intersection accidents include:

  • Driving too fast for weather conditions, such as not slowing down if it is raining or being prepared to respond if the sun is in your eyes.
  • Following too closely which can cause a rear-end collision with someone who is stopped at an intersection.
  • Driving while intoxicated which causes a driver’s abilities to be impaired. Drunk drivers or drivers who are under the influence of drugs often have difficulty judging distances and speeds. Their reaction times are slow. They often fail to position their car directly.
  • Failing to yield the right of way. Drivers in Chattanooga need to understand who has the right of way at intersections that are not regulated by traffic lights.

Passengers and drivers in intersections

When you drive through an intersection, you need to be aware of pedestrians and bicycle riders who are crossing the intersection. You need to respect when pedestrians and bicycle riders have the right to cross. You should also be aware that many pedestrians and riders may be caught in the middle of the intersection when the light changes. You need to respect their right to finish crossing the intersection.

What types of injuries occur when cars collide in intersections?

In many traffic accidents the vehicles either strike each other head-on, front-to-side (a broadside collision), or they sideswipe each other. Rear-end crashes are also common.

In head-on crashes and broadsides, the force of the car crash is often so strong that one of the occupants tragically dies. A collision with a pedestrian or bicycle rider is often fatal. Our lawyers file wrongful death claims on behalf of any spouse, child, or parent who is killed in an intersection accident.

Survivors of head-on crashes, broadsides, and sideswipes often suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, nerve damage, and many other injuries that often require extensive medical care.

Tennessee’s intersection traffic law

To help ensure that cars understand how to travel through an intersection, Tennessee has laws that regulate how to turn at an intersection, where to position yourself, and who has the right of way. Tennessee law § 55-8-140 provides the following correct intersection procedures:

  • If you are making a right turn, you should be as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway during your approach, and while you’re making the right-hand turn.
  • If you are making a left turn on a two-way roadway (where traffic can proceed in both directions), the “approach for a left turn shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center line thereof and by passing to the right of the center line where it enters the intersection, and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line of the roadway being entered.” Where it’s reasonable, you should turn left in the portion of the intersection “to the left of the center of the intersection.”

The statute provides specific requirements for making left turns on roads that are not two-way roadways

Drivers who are turning at an intersection need to be aware of (and follow) any local markers, signs, or buttons directing traffic at an intersection.

Special turn lanes at intersections

If the intersection has a special lane for making left-hand turns, then you need to make the turn from that special lane – unless there is a good reason why you cannot enter that lane. You should not be in the special lane unless you are preparing to turn left. You should not be in the left-hand lane to pass other vehicles.

Sometimes the special turn lane is available to cars coming from either direction. Tennessee law provides that no vehicles coming from the opposite direction should enter the special turn lane – “if that entrance would prohibit the vehicle already in the lane from making the intended turn.”

If two vehicles enter the turn lane from opposite directions, “the first vehicle to enter the lane shall have the right-of-way.”

At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, our Chattanooga car accident attorneys have a strong track record of success negotiating settlements for the policy limits and trying cases in court. Our lawyers work with investigators and thoroughly question all defendants and witnesses, to help determine how the accident happened and who is responsible. We work your doctors to verify your injuries, document the treatments you’ll need, and show all the ways your injuries are affecting your ability to function and enjoy life.

To learn if you have a wrongful death or personal injury claim due to an intersection accident, call us at 423-756-7923 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and the neighboring locations.