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Bad habits collide in intersections

What driver error most frequently contributes to a casualty collision in an intersection?

  • Running a stop sign
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to yield for a pedestrian
  • Making an improper left turn against oncoming traffic

While all of these behaviours are very dangerous, making an improper left turn against oncoming traffic is the most common driver error contributing to intersection-related casualty collisions.

“Intersections are designed to allow motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians to interact with each other safely. Ignoring traffic signs or signals, refusing to yield for pedestrians and following too closely are all significant causes of casualty collisions in our province. Please drive carefully and courteously so everyone gets home safely.”

Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation

“Never assume the other drivers are always going to do the right thing at an intersection. You should ALWAYS check for vehicles approaching the intersection to make sure they are going to stop completely or yield the right of way. Safe driving means that we are constantly watching the road and other drivers  to avoid dangerous collisions.”

Inspector Steve Daley, Acting OIC Traffic Services, Alberta RCMP, K Division

Intersection facts/tips

  • Between 2010 – 2014, 315 people were killed and 39,791 people were injured in collisions at intersections in Alberta.
  • In Canada, 28 per cent of fatalities and 40 per cent of serious injuries from collisions involved an intersection.
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign carries a $388 fine and three demerits. At a stop sign, drivers are required to come to a complete stop, which means the wheels of the vehicle must not be moving, before proceeding safely through the intersection. This complete stop gives drivers the opportunity to look for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, or cyclists.
  • Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk carries a fine of $575 and four demerit points.
  • About 86 per cent of collisions are attributable to driver error. Paying attention and making safe decisions is important to reducing collisions.
  • When vehicles arrive at a four-way stop sign, allow the vehicle that arrived first to proceed first. If vehicles arrive simultaneously, right of way is given to the vehicle on the right, while left-turning vehicles yield to approaching traffic. 
  • The proper procedure for executing a turn is to signal first to provide reasonable warning to other drivers of your intention. Then, check traffic and conditions on both left and right and left again before making the turn. 
  • Treat red lights the same as a stop sign, even if you are turning right at an intersection. Stop and check for pedestrians or other traffic, and only proceed once it’s safe.

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