• Handling Intersections
    Intersections are probably the most dangerous area on the road. While highways and expressways can be intimidating due to their high speeds, intersections provide a much tougher challenge for all drivers, especially those new to the road.

    Generally, there are two types of intersections:

    1. T-intersections (3-way intersections): one road terminates at the intersection.Major Intersections
    2. 4-way intersections: two roads cross

    As a point of fact, there are 5-way and 6-way intersections. We have yet to find a 7-way intersection, but believe that it must exist somewhere.

    Traffic control devices

    Intersections are oftentimes classified by the type of traffic control device that controls the intersection. The most common are:

    • Uncontrolled: These are typically found at T-intersections. The right-of-way rule states that the through-road has the right-of-way. So, if your road ends at the intersection, you must yield the right of way. However, if you encounter a 4-way uncontrolled intersection, yield right of way to the right.
    • Stop-controlled: There are stop signs controlling traffic flow at the intersection. Two-way and four-way stops are the most common.
    • Signal-controlled: These are intersections where a traffic light or signal controls the flow of traffic.

    Learn what to look for at intersections

    In the previous lesson, we mentioned that determining how an intersection is controlled is important because it gives you clues as to how other drivers may act. For instance, a 4-way intersection with stop signs at all four corners is much different than an uncontrolled 3-way T-intersection.

    Get behind the wheel and drive to many different types of intersections and use commentary driving to explain to your teen what’s important. Here’s an incomplete list of risks, but it should get you thinking.

    • Stop-sign controlled:
      • 4-way stops: While 4-way intersections that are controlled by four stop signs are relatively safe, they still pose some potential problems. Drivers tend to always screw up the right-of-way rules at 4-way stops. Here’s how it works: right of way is yielded to whichever car arrives first at the intersection. If multiple cars arrive at the same time, the right of way is yielded to the car to the right. Now, that is how things are supposed to happen. What actually happens at a 4-way stop is usually much different. Teach your teen that:
        • Just because there’s a stop sign, it doesn’t mean the other car is going to stop. Don’t enter the intersection unless it is clear and that any approaching cars are far enough away that they won’t hit you if they don’t stop. Otherwise, wait for those cars to come to a stop before completely crossing the intersection. Unfortunately, you can’t assume other drivers will follow the rules of the road.
        • Just because you have the right of way, it doesn’t mean other cars are going to give it to you. You must look in all directions several times before proceeding into the intersection. You have to be certain that another car isn’t also crossing.
      • 2-way stops: Oftentimes, drivers confuse two-way stops with four-way stops. This can have deadly consequences. Just because you have a stop sign at an intersection, it doesn’t mean that other cars must also stop. This is why it’s so important to identify how the intersection is controlled.
    • Uncontrolled intersections: These types of intersections are more common in rural areas than they are in city areas. This is due to the low traffic volume in rural areas. The risks are high at an uncontrolled intersection, so make sure your teen approaches it carefully. Right-of-way tells us that cars that are continuing straight have priority over cars turning. It also states that traffic to the right has priority. Again, you can’t trust that other drivers know these rules or that they will obey them. Therefore, do not cross an uncontrolled intersection unless you can see that the road is clear in all directions. If you’re unsure, slow down or stop.
    • Signal-controlled intersections: Because these intersections typically control all of the traffic flow, many drivers discount the level of danger at these crossroads. However, signal-controlled intersections are extremely high volume and present many problems.
      • Red-light runners: Teach your teen not to go on green. The reason is that more than 94 percent of red-light violations occur within 2 seconds of red light onset. You must convince your teen that not all drivers follow the rules.
      • Cars making left turns: Whenever you approach an intersection, you should be especially cautious of cars making a left turn. You must keep a watchful eye on these cars to see if they’re going to turn out in front of you. You simply have no way of knowing if these cars have a protected or unprotected turn. A protected turn means that they have a green left-turn signal. An unprotected turn means they have a green light and are supposed to be yielding to oncoming traffic. As you should know by now, you can’t assume other cars will make smart (or legal) decisions.
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