When people think about intersection crashes, they usually conjure up an image of a vehicle-to-vehicle crash. Or perhaps a vehicle to bike or pedestrian crash comes to mind. And while these are certainly major issues at intersections, there is also an increase in the risk of run-off-road crashes at these locations. Why is this?  

Likelihood is up:  

  • There is an increased chance a driver/rider will need to avoid an errant vehicle in the intersection.  
  • There are often hazards around the intersection including utility poles, light poles, culverts, and signal pedestals.  
  • Some vehicles are making turn movements which increases loss-of-control chance.  

Severity can be high:  

  • The point source nature of many of the hazards (listed above) creates high energy transfer to the vehicle occupants or riders.  
  • Depending on the intersection form, there can be high speeds through intersections.  

So what can we do?  

  • Creating slower speeds through intersections improves the safety of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes, but also single vehicle run-off-road crashes. This can be achieved with different intersection forms (roundabouts, raised intersections, etc.) or through speed limits and will influence both the likelihood and severity of crashes.  
  • Reducing the complexity of the intersection can reduce the chance a vehicle/rider leaves the road. 
  • Moving fixed hazards away from the intersection if possible. 
  • Making any fixed hazards near the intersection frangible (i.e. break away on impact).