Common Causes of Intersection Car Crashes

Intersection car crashes occur thousands of times each day in the United States. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration reports 2.5 million intersection crashes nationwide each year. Forty percent of all traffic crashes occur at an intersection.

The figure represents 20% of all fatal crashes. Intersection car crashes are a serious concern for everyone on the roads. Our Miami, FL car accident attorneys explain the most common causes of intersection car crashes.

Most Common Causes of Intersection Car Crashes

The most common causes of intersection car crashes are disobeying a traffic signal and failing to yield the right of way. Running a red light, trying to get through the intersection on a yellow light, and even unintentionally misjudging the traffic signal are all leading causes of intersection car crashes.

Crashes occur as a result of intentional misconduct as well as simple negligence. While there are many causes, the most common causes of intersection car crashes are failing to obey a traffic signal or failing to yield the right of way.

Before Miami Intersection Accident

What Is the Leading Cause of Intersection Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of intersection accidents is a driver who fails to notice the traffic signal and runs the traffic light. NHTSA reports that as many as 46% of intersection accidents occur because a driver accidentally disobeys a traffic signal.[1]

An additional 18 percent of accidents occur because a driver proceeds through the intersection when the light is yellow. Thirty-six percent of intersection accidents are caused by a driver who intentionally runs a red light.

Leading Causes of Intersection Accidents

Leading causes of intersection accidents include:

Failing to stop at a red light/stop sign – When a driver fails to stop at a red light or a stop sign, they enter the direct path of oncoming traffic. Drivers heading in the opposite direction are often traveling too fast to react in time. The result can be an intersection car crash with serious injuries.

Trying to make it through a yellow light – To some drivers, a yellow light is an invitation to speed up, not to slow down. When a driver tries to make it through a yellow light, they increase the possibility of an intersection crash.

Prohibited right turns – Right turns are not always allowed at an intersection. When they’re not permitted, it’s usually because they pose an unreasonable danger of a crash. Too often, drivers try to turn right anyway, and the result is a crash.

Failing to yield the right of way – Even if there is no traffic signal at the intersection, there are still right of way rules. Drivers may not follow right of way rules, they may make honest mistakes, or they may communicate poorly. Whatever the reason, failing to yield the right of way puts a driver in an intersection while there may be oncoming traffic.

Trying to turn right with traffic in the lane – A right turn may be allowed on a red light in an intersection. However, a driver who wants to turn right can’t impede traffic to make the turn. Turning right without a clear path to execute the turn can put multiple vehicles in one lane at the same time.

Being rear-ended and pushed into traffic – When a driver is stopped at an intersection, the driver behind them may rear-end their vehicle. The result can be a chain reaction. The stopped vehicle can be pushed into the intersection, which can cause a collision with traffic driving in the other direction.

Not adjusting for weather or road conditions – When it’s raining, or when other weather conditions make driving difficult, drivers need to make adjustments. If a driver doesn’t adjust for weather or road conditions, they may not be able to navigate an intersection safely.

Defective equipment – Driving errors are not always responsible for an intersection crash. A vehicle may have defective equipment that malfunctions and causes a collision. The defective equipment might be a maintenance issue, or it might be a defect with the vehicle itself.

Failing to survey the surrounding area – A driver needs to be aware of their surroundings. They need to scan the area in front of them to have the information that they need to proceed through the intersection safely. When a driver doesn’t take in enough information, they may make a mistake that causes an intersection crash.

Obstructed views – Not every intersection has a clear view. A driver may not be able to see if vehicles are coming before they proceed into the intersection. The result can be a crash.

Misjudgment – Even with the best of intentions, drivers sometimes misjudge the situation. They might think they can make it through a yellow light when there isn’t enough time. They might think they have time to turn right when there’s an oncoming vehicle. Intersection crashes can result from driver misjudgment.

Distracted driving – Distracted driving is a problem in all situations, including in intersections. Drivers need to devote their attention and energy to the task at hand. When other things take attention away from the road, a driver may make errors that result in an intersection crash.

Why Do Accidents Happen at Intersections?

Accidents happen at intersections because drivers make errors while they are near other vehicles. Intersections allow multiple drivers to go in different directions. When one driver disobeys a traffic law or makes a driving mistake, other drivers are present. They may not be able to react in time to avoid a crash.

Who Is at Fault in an Intersection Accident?

The person at fault in an intersection accident is the person who violates a traffic law. If a driver enters the intersection on a red or yellow light, or if they run a stop sign, they’re at fault for the intersection accident. Even proceeding through a yellow light when the driver could have stopped is enough to be at fault in an intersection accident. Who is at fault in an intersection accident is the person who causes the accident by making a driving error.

Contact Our Miami Car Accident Lawyers If You Have Been in an Intersection Crash

The attorneys for car accidents in Miami at Bernstein & Maryanoff can represent you if you’re in an intersection car crash. Call us today for your free consultation. There is no fee unless you win.


[1] 2010. Crash Factors In Intersection-Related Crashes: An On-Scene Perspective. [online] Retrieved 17 March 2020.

About the Author

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Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.