Whether you've been a licensed West Virginia driver for years or recently passed the test as a new driver, your safety and that of your passengers largely depends on your personal driving habits. While you understand that you're obligated to adhere to all traffic laws, you also know that you can't control what other drivers do. Distracted drivers, drunk drivers and others can place you and your passengers at immediate risk for collision and injury. Intersections are locations requiring tremendous caution at the wheel.
There are several types of intersections, including some that are secured by traffic lights or signage and others that have no signs or lights at all. Even if you do everything right as you approach and navigate an intersection, another driver might do something wrong, which causes a crash and lands you in a hospital emergency room.
Keep these safety precautions in mind at intersections
Half of all collisions occur at crossroads. Approximately 20% of those result in fatalities. The following list includes several reminders that may help you and your passengers stay safe and avoid collision:
- Last-minute lane changes are dangerous. When you approach an intersection, make sure you're in the proper lane and that all nearby drivers can see you.
- Drunk drivers often use incorrect signaling, such as activating a left turn signal to make a right turn. Pay attention to make sure that drivers appear to be moving in the direction that their turn signals are suggesting they will travel.
- Also, make sure you always use a turn signal, even if you are in a left or right turn only lane.
- Minimize distraction when approaching an intersection. It's difficult to know if another driver is distracted unless you witness someone texting or talking on a cell phone.
- If there are vehicles in front of you as you approach an intersection, pay close attention to traffic flow. Watch brake lights to anticipate when the car in front of you will be at a complete stop.
- Rear-end collisions are common at intersections. Try to keep enough distance between you and the cars in front or behind you to improve safety.
- Green lights mean go; however, it's best to pause and make sure your path is clear before proceeding.
Visibility is critically important at an intersection. Always remember that trees, lampposts, parked cars or other objects may obstruct your full view of a crossroad. Also, keep watch for pedestrians who may step into the roadway when least expected.
If someone hits you and you suffer injury
You might be alert and cautious when approaching or navigating an intersection, but another driver could be looking down at a GPS device or acting under the influence of alcohol. If someone runs a red light, fails to stop at a stop sign or rams into the back of your car because he or she wasn't paying attention to your brake lights, you could suffer severe injuries.
If you have to take time off work or be in the hospital for days or weeks during recovery, you might encounter serious financial distress in addition to the physical injuries and emotional trauma associated with the incident. Many recovering accident victims seek financial recovery for their losses by filing legal claims against those deemed responsible for damages.