INTERSECTIONS always need to be treated with great care. Judging the speed of approaching vehicles poses one of the greatest challenges for the majority of drivers.
Even at an intersection where traffic lights are telling us what to do, things can go wrong. Strangely, people have been known to run red lights…
You need to be on your guard any time you have to cross the path of other vehicles. As you are approaching the intersection, stay alert, assess the view and be prepared for the unexpected.
Keep a sharp look-out for other vehicles and keep in mind that objects around the intersection - parked cars, bushes, power poles - may block your view.
At traffic lights, even if you have a green light it's wise to ease off the power a little and be ready to brake just in case. Make sure you are scanning the intersection as you approach it and look out for clues that may give you an early warning.
Don't forget to signal your intentions and indicate in plenty of time so that other people around you know where you intend to go.
Also, if the light has been green for a while, you know it is likely to change soon, so be ready and plan how you are going to deal with it.
Whilst we'd like to think that other drivers are totally on the ball all the time, we know this is not the case and unfortunately mistakes happen. Don't fall into the trap of assuming other drivers are actually going to do what you think they are going to do.
For instance, just because someone's indicator is flashing doesn't necessarily mean they're heading in that direction.
What if the driver approaching your intersection has left his indicator running from an earlier turn and now actually intends to keep going straight ahead? If you pull out, believing he's going to turn, you're in trouble. There have been countless crashes caused by this very mistake.
If you're stopped at an intersection and an approaching car has an indicator flashing, wait until that car actually starts to turn before you move off. It won't cost you a lot of time and it could well save you in more ways than one.
Russell White's experience in the driver training industry spans more than 24 years. He is widely regarded as one of Australia's leading road safety advocates. His business offers the complete range of driver training and fleet management services, visit driversafety.com.au