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Play it safe at intersections

Busy intersections are potential danger zones where vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can come together in an unexpected — and often fatal wa

Busy intersections are potential danger zones where vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can come together in an unexpected — and often fatal way.

Almost half of all collisions occur at intersections. In 2008, 89 people were killed and 9,134 people were injured in collisions at intersections in Alberta. Speeding, running red lights and failing to yield to pedestrians can have tragic consequences. Motorists must be extra cautious when approaching and driving through intersections, especially in winter when roads can be icy or slippery.

“The results of an intersection collision, especially on highways and roadways that have higher speed limits, can be devastating,” said Inspector Don Ladouceur with Hobbema RCMP. “Public safety is paramount, and police officers will continue to focus on the driving behaviours that put the public at risk: failing to stop, proceeding from intersections when unsafe to do so, speed, and failing to yield the right of way to other vehicles or pedestrians.

“Drivers are required to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. This means that the vehicle’s wheels must come to a complete stop before the driver may proceed safely into the intersection. This complete stop gives the driver the opportunity to look for any oncoming traffic, whether it’s a pedestrian, cyclist, or tractor trailer. Failing to stop at stop signs and/ or failing to proceed safely after stopping are some of the high-risk driving behaviours that could result in a serious collision that could forever change your life or the life of someone you love.”

The following tips will help you drive more safely through intersections.

• At intersections controlled by a stop sign, drivers are required to come to a complete stop before proceeding. This gives drivers the opportunity to look for traffic from the sides and straight ahead, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.

• Do not block intersections so that other traffic may proceed when the light changes.

• If a traffic light is changing from green to amber — slow down, cover your brake and prepare to stop.

• When vehicles arrive at an intersection controlled by four-way stop signs, allow the vehicle that arrived first to proceed first. If vehicles arrive at approximately the same time, allow the vehicle on the right to proceed, while left-turning vehicles yield to approaching traffic.

• Slow down when approaching an uncontrolled intersection. Make sure to check left, centre and right for traffic and be prepared to stop. Yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

• Slippery roads and limited visibility are common in winter, so adjust your speed for the conditions. Avoid tail-gating other motorists and give yourself more time to stop safely.

• Pedestrians always have the right of way at intersections unless otherwise indicated.

• Be patient — give elderly and disabled people more time to cross the road.

• Be aware of and prepare to yield to pedestrians who indicate they intend to cross the road. Pedestrians should extend an arm straight out and point across the road in the direction they intend to cross.

• Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk carries a fine of $575 and four demerit points.

“Following an intersection-related collision, RCMP officers often hear excuses such as there's never anything coming, so I didn't think there would be this time or there wasn't anyone at the last stop sign so I automatically entered the intersection after a rolling stop,” said Ladouceur. “Not expecting another car or person in the intersection is a weak excuse for putting your own or someone else's life at risk. When you approach a stop sign, come to a full and complete stop. Every time. No exceptions.”