Attorney David J. King


How to avoid personal injury when approaching intersections

If you’re age 50 or older, you might recall a time in your life when it was common for people to drive for leisure. Sunday was a big day for such, and many families would hop in their cars to take a drive in the country or some other scenic route. This isn’t as common anymore, primarily because South Dakota roads can be highly dangerous, as you undoubtedly already know, if you spend a frequent amount of time behind the wheel.

Intersections, especially, are high-risk sections of roadway. Sadly, many collisions occur at crossroads, resulting in serious, even fatal injuries. Even if you’re a skilled and experienced driver, it always pays to improve safety by reviewing practical tips for avoiding collision at intersections. The only problem is that, no matter how safe a driver you are, there’s no telling what another driver might do. Driver negligence and outright recklessness cause many intersection tragedies.

Keep these things in mind

There are several types of intersections in South Dakota. Some are secure, meaning that traffic lights or stop signs govern the movement of vehicles and pedestrians. Other crossroads, however, are unmarked. Whether you’re on foot or driving, the following list includes key factors to keeping you and others as safe as possible: 

  • It’s always wise to keep both hands on the wheel when you’re driving a car. This is especially important, however, if you’re approaching an intersection, because it gives you more control and ability to react swiftly if a problem arises.
  • Most drivers glance away from the road for a second or two at some time or another. It’s never a good idea to do so as you approach a crossroad, though, because it only takes a second for disaster to occur if another driver runs a red light or fails to stop at a stop sign.
  • The safest way to navigate a turn at an intersection is to do so at approximately 5 miles per hour. This increases your ability to make a sudden stop and also creates more stopping distance if you’re in a line of traffic.
  • A green light gives you permission to go but doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to proceed. To avoid collision, it’s always best to scan all surrounding paths of travel to make sure no vehicles are entering your path and no pedestrians are stepping into the roadway.
  • If you’re unsure who has the right-of-way in a given situation, it is always safest to yield.

These are simple ways you can increase your chances of avoiding personal injury at an intersection. For instance, by keeping your eyes on the crossroad at all times, you might notice a speeding car that doesn’t appear to be going to stop at a red light, thus giving you time to react to avert a crash; whereas, if you had been looking down at the floor of your car or elsewhere, you might not have seen the car at all.

If another driver causes you personal injury

While it’s possible to see someone in passing while you’re driving that you know in person, most of the other drivers you encounter are strangers. You have no idea what their driving habits are or whether they’ve ever had a DUI conviction, for example. Your entire future can change in an instant if another driver’s negligence causes you injury.

That’s why, in addition to reviewing practical tips for intersection safety, it’s also a good idea to have a plan in mind for what to do if a collision occurs. Seeking medical attention is always the priority, not only to obtain treatment, but also to create a written record of the incident in case you later seek financial recovery for your losses in court.