The intersection problem
As long as each vehicle moves in its own lane without getting in the way of another vehicle, traveling is smooth. But travel is not all in the same direction. Our chosen line of traffic often must cross the paths of other vehicles, and that's when trouble comes—the intersection problem. Everyone knows that two bodies cannot occupy the same space at once, but many drivers seem to forget that law of physics when they plow through an intersection with little regard for the rights of others. Do you drivers approach each intersection with an attitude of courtesy and the knowledge and skill to take the crossing in proper turns without incident?
Traffic crossings will have no more terror for the disciplined driver than two pedestrians meeting on the sidewalk. Know the rules and observe them, but if the other driver is less than courteous—or is confused—or ill informed—or even foolish—let the less competent driver go through in order to avoid a mishap. Knowing what to do at an intersection is most important. At controlled intersections with stop and go signals, one has only to observe the rules carefully—slow down on the caution yellow light, come to a full stop on the red light, and go only after the light is green. What to do at an uncontrolled intersection is a matter of judgment. If you have clear vision of the side road and the road ahead for an eighth of a mile or more, you can be reasonably sure of sailing on through the crossing at normal speed—but should you keep your foot on the accelerator?
Wouldn't it be better to coast through the intersection with a foot poised over the brake pedal—just in case of trouble you hadn't seen? Good drivers make it a habit to reduce speed at every intersection, stepping on the gas again only after they're sure. It is important to know the braking distance, so that you can slow down in time at intersections. If you're approaching a blind corner, your speed must be low enough for you to stop if a vehicle appears suddenly from either side. If you're going 30 miles an hour. Would that be slow enough for you to stop in time if a vehicle darted across at a blind corner? Panic stops can be almost as bad as collisions, and if you're in the habit of waiting until the last moment to jam on the brakes in a screeching stop, you'll soon find yourself in a scrape you can't drive away from.
The good driver always drives defensively, especially at intersections. Some people insist on the silly defense of always having the “right of way” in a tight situation. Keep in mind that if the other driver is foolish or is in actual violation of the law, you can die in an intersection crash regardless of who may have had the right of way. Always be ready to give a little, or a lot, to save a life. The defensive driver avoids collisions at intersections by observing all safety rules and traffic regulations faithfully, and by approaching, entering, turning and crossing intersections slowly and with caution. The vehicle is always under control allowing adequate time to evaluate each situation before getting involved. The defensive driver waits for the proper turn, and even foregoes their own right of way when in doubt or when it will prevent an accident. Defensive drivers observe other driver's signals, but don't depend on them entirely. They are prepared for sudden changes of direction or speed. The defensive driver is always conscious of their place in the traffic pattern and can make wise decisions accordingly. When vision is obscured by anything—they automatically slow down. Know how to stay out of intersection collisions.
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.