Surface roads may not be as safe as you probably think they are

There are many myths and misconceptions about what actually keeps you safe on the road. People may accidentally spread misinformation about what practices are safest and best. For example, many people associate interstates and highways with elevated danger. While there is no question that driving at higher speeds increases your risk of an accident and the potential severity of any crash you do experience, statistically, surface roads can be as dangerous as interstates.

In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, roughly half of all collisions occur at intersections. In other words, they occur on surface roads, not on freeways and highways, which tend to have fewer intersecting roads. Understanding what causes these crashes can help you stay safe on surface roads and at intersections.

Inadequate surveillance is the single biggest issue

When you approach an intersection, there are three or potentially even more other avenues of approach you have to remain aware of. There could be vehicles, motorcycles or even pedestrians approaching from one of those other roadways. Failing to truly look at what is occurring around you is often a contributing factor to intersection crashes.

You might assume that the road is clear because of the time of day, but such an assumption could be dangerous. In order to keep yourself and others safe, you should always visually verify the existence or lack thereof of other vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians or animals. Not only can it help you avoid causing a crash, but it could help you avoid someone whose negligence would cause one.

Pay attention to what other drivers do

Another major contributing factor to intersection collisions is failure to understand the intentions of other drivers. In order to make an intelligent decision about what you should do at an intersection, you need to know what other vehicles approaching the same intersection intend to do.

In some cases, you have to wait. Other times, you can execute a maneuver at the same time they proceed through the intersection. Whether they go straight, stop or turn, you will rely on their speed, direction and indicator lights to determine what they plan. When people fail to use their turn signals or brake suddenly, that can result in other people misjudging what is safe and appropriate to do at an intersection.

Whether you get into a collision at an intersection or on a highway, you have rights. That is particularly true if the crash is the result of another driver's negligence or law-breaking and you suffer either serious injuries or substantial property damage. Educating yourself about those rights is an important first step for anyone struggling to deal with the aftermath of a major collision.

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