A recent car accident in St. Joseph shows the relative dangers of intersections. It also raises questions about stop light design.
Car Crash Sends Four to Hospital
The accident happened on December 24, 2021, at the intersection of Highly Street and North 22nd Street in St. Joseph. According to the initial reports, a driver from Iowa failed to stop at a red light and crashed into a local driver in the intersection. Four people were brought to the hospital with minor injuries.
Lots of Accidents Happen at Intersections
Common sense suggests that car crashes are going to be common at intersections. After all, it is where cars going in different directions are going to interact with each other, and where drivers have to make decisions and determine what other drivers are going to do.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though, has numbers to back this up. Based on their data, around 5,811,000 car accidents happened in the U.S. in 2008. Of them, 2,307,000 happened at intersections, or 39.7 percent.
The causes of these accidents are also radically different from accidents that happen away from intersections. While the NHTSA’s study only looked at the cause of some of the 2.3 million intersection accidents, the results are still telling. While 92 percent of non-intersection accidents are attributed to driver error, 96 percent of intersection crashes are. The specific error that caused the crash are also very different.
In intersection crashes, leading causes from driver error were:
- Inadequate surveillance (44.1 percent)
- False assumption of someone else’s action (8.4)
- Turning with an obstructed view (7.8)
- Illegal maneuver (6.8)
- Distracted driving (5.7)
- Misjudging a gap between vehicles or someone else’s speed (5.5)
Meanwhile, in crashes that did not happen in an intersection, leading driver errors were:
- Driving too fast for conditions (22.8 percent)
- Performance error, like overcompensating or losing control of the vehicle (15.9)
- Distracted driving (13.4)
- Non-performance errors, like sleeping (10.8)
- Inadequate surveillance (7.3)
Altogether, these factors draw out the distinctive features of intersections and the crashes that happen in them. Drivers tend to not see what others are doing in the intersection, or incorrectly predict where other drivers are going to go.
The good news is that intersection crashes are generally low speed affairs. Like this one in St. Joseph, they tend to produce minor injuries and few fatalities.
Stop Light Design May Have Played a Role
An interesting element to this particular car crash in St. Joseph was the role of the stoplight.
Generally, drivers look for stoplights hanging above an intersection. However, the intersection of Highly and North 22nd is one of the places in St. Joseph that uses traffic signals that are mounted on poles of around 8 feet and that stand at the corners of the far side of the intersection for oncoming traffic. This nontraditional setup may have contributed to the crash: Recall that the driver who ran the red light and caused the crash was from Iowa, not St. Joseph.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Victims in St. Joseph
The car accident and personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office serve victims in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Call their law office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online.