Just yesterday we were driving around town and I turned left with a protected left turn green arrow. There was a truck following me through the intersection and we were both just going about our business. However, from the other direction a person approaching the intersection from the opposite direction decides to run the red light and wound up driving between myself and the following truck. Wow – that was a close call and could have been a very bad start to the day! Clearly this person had forgotten what they learned in drivers ed.
This was certainly not the first time that I've seen someone run a red light and it was very scary to be in that situation. A quick acceleration by myself and hard braking by the truck behind me allowed enough of a hole for the oncoming car to make it through without incident. However, we were all lucky and I would not want to make that bet very often. Good driving schools cover intersections in great depth and these type of incidents are mostly a lapse of attention. Given how often this scenario happens, here are a few tips to help avoid being part of a collision:
1) Stay Alert. Assume that others approaching a red light are not alert and hence prone to make stupid mistakes. When at a red light, pay attention to the situation, including pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.
2) Eyes up. Use high aim vision when moving through an intersection. Scan the intersection as you move out and make sure to keep your eyes up.
3) Watch for oncoming traffic . While braking, the front end of a vehicle will be “pushed down”, a.k.a. “nose down”. A fast moving vehicle will show more “nose down” as the brakes are applied. The danger sign is a vehicle that should be stopping at a red light which isn't applying brakes and hence will not show any “nose down”.
4) Watch for traffic from the right. Its relatively easy to see an oncoming car since it is closer to your focus of vision. However, remember to continue scanning when entering the intersection.
5) Turn off the cell phone. Distractions of any kind tend to take the drivers attention away from the action, which is a bad thing. Cell phones are among the worst distractions so put down the cell phone while driving in general and particular around intersections.
6) Beware the controlled intersection with 2-way stop. These are particularly dangerous as the traffic proceeding directly through the intersection is often doing so at high speed. The onus is on the driver entering the intersection from the controlled entrance. If you're entering the uncontrolled entrance, watch for other drivers from both the right and left who may “blow through” the stop sign or enter the intersection prematurely. If you're entering the intersection from the controlled entrance, make doubly sure there is no traffic coming from either direction or from the other side of the road prior to proceeding into the intersection.
Bottom line is that the most important item is to simply realize that when you are entering an intersection, you are entering a danger zone. And treat it as such, paying close attention to what others are doing and trying to anticipate what they will do.
- Find out why you should choose SWERVE Driving School?
- What are people saying about SWERVE Driving School?
- A guide to getting your drivers license.
- Schedule your drives
- View your schedule
- Get coaching tips.