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For drivers, intersections are a major source of collision risk

Driving or riding in a motor vehicle is an inherently dangerous activity. Anything from mechanical failure to inclement weather could contribute to a sudden crash or collision. There's also human error and poor decision making to consider. Despite laws against both drunk and distracted driving, many people choose to operate motor vehicles in a situation that presents elevated risk.

If you try to be a safe driver, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a crash. You can commit to avoiding your mobile phone while driving and refuse to take the wheel when drinking. You can also watch out for dangerous areas and risk factors on the road. Intersections are a major risk factor that you can't avoid, but can handle carefully to minimize your overall risk on the road.

Intersections play a role in more than a third of all crashes

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, roughly 36 percent of crashes take place at or near an intersection. In other words, more than one in every three crashes relates to an intersection in some way. Of those crashes, roughly 96 percent of them resulted from mistakes made by drivers. Vehicle and environmental issues only caused about 3 percent of the crashes.

An analysis of the cause of intersection collisions makes it clear why these junctions between roads are so dangerous. Approximately 44 percent of intersection crashes relate to inadequate surveillance. In other words, nearly half of the crashes are a result of drivers failing to check for other vehicles, bikes and pedestrians before moving through the intersection.

Wrongly assuming what another driver may do was the next most serious issue, causing 8.4 percent of intersection crashes. Obstructed views caused another 7.8 percent, while illegal maneuvers account for another 6.8 percent. Internal distraction and improperly estimating speed or spacing were the other major factors in intersection crashes.

Stay attentive and watch out for other drivers

If you're already avoiding driving while impaired, distracted or exhausted, then you're making wise choices to minimize your risk in a vehicle. You can further reduce your personal risk of a crash by remaining alert and focused on the task at hand whenever you drive. You should really focus on your surroundings whenever you approach an intersection.

Whether there's a four-way stop, a traffic light or just a yield sign, you should watch for pedestrians, bikes and other vehicles from all potential approaches when you get close to an intersection. If you can't tell what another driver intends to do, you can always waive him or her through ahead of you. Taking care to observe other drivers could help you avoid the biggest risk factors associated with intersection crashes.

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