Trying to avoid danger on the road could mean that you make decisions about harm reduction to keep yourself and your family members as safe as possible. For example, you might choose to take a slightly longer route in order to avoid getting on the expressway. You might mistakenly believe that surface streets will have less risk of a crash because of slower speeds and possibly lighter traffic.

However, while bypassing the freeway does mean that you will drive at slower speeds, it also generally means that you will have to drive through many intersections, each of which could put you at risk for a major car crash caused by another driver.

A surprisingly high number of crashes take place at intersections

According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 36% of all motor vehicle crashes take place at intersections. In other words, you can’t avoid the risks of the road just by sticking to streets with slower speed limits. When you have to maneuver around other vehicles, the risk always presents itself for someone to make a mistake and cause a crash.

What are the leading causes of intersection crashes?

The NHTSA didn’t just calculate how many crashes occurred in intersections. They reviewed police reports and determined the most common causative factors for intersection collisions. In a finding that will surprise likely no one, the numbers reveal that 44.1% of all intersection crashes result from drivers not adequately monitoring their surroundings. They simply don’t look before they proceed, which then results in a crash.

Another 8.4% of crashes occur because drivers misinterpret the intentions of others. Failure to use signals or improperly using them can leave other drivers confused and can directly lead to two vehicles collided. An obstructed view at the corner caused 7.8% of intersection crashes, illegal maneuvers caused another 6.8% and misjudging spacing or speed caused another 5.5%.

Finally, internal distraction by a driver was responsible for 5.7% of intersection crashes, as people may be more likely to daydream or mentally wander off when driving on surface streets. Paying close attention to road conditions, watching other drivers for signs they aren’t paying attention and erring on the side of caution can all reduce your risk of an intersection collision.