Professionals who study intersections and work on ways to make them safer are familiar with the term “conflict points.”
Everyone passes through these conflict points, whether on foot, on a bike or in a vehicle. The goal is to get through intersections without incident, but sometimes that is easier said than done.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the basic structure of intersections makes them “planned points of conflict.” These are more closely defined as the point where paths cross, join or separate. Strategists are constantly working on improving intersection safety, whether it is by way of design or through new signs, signals or other devices for traffic control.
Contributing to collisions
Collisions can happen in a number of ways at an intersection. A vehicle might be proceeding across the intersection when another driver goes through the stop sign or red light and hits it broadside. Two drivers could collide because they have both entered a confusing, uncontrolled intersection. On the other hand, an oncoming vehicle may strike someone attempting to make a left turn.
Speeding into disaster
The law considers speeding as a form of aggressive behavior in motorists, and people who are driving faster than they should when approaching an intersection can cause a catastrophic crash. A speeding vehicle requires an increased stopping distance, a fact the driver’s mind does not process until it is too late. The collision will often result in very severe injuries, possibly to both drivers and their passengers.
Failing to see pedestrians and others
Those injured in an intersection crash may include pedestrians, cyclists or motorcycle riders. Drivers expect to see other cars and trucks, not people who are walking or riding, so a collision sometimes happens because a driver does not see the smaller object. An intersection crash can change lives in an instant, simply because the victims happened to be in a “conflict point” at the wrong time.