Road Safety Information

Intersection Safety

Last Updated on October 12, 2021

Collisions and injuries –some of them fatal – very often occur at intersections. The victims are usually the most vulnerable road users (i.e., children, older pedestrians, and bicyclists). If not killed outright, victims can suffer serious and sometimes devastating, lifelong injury.

Prevalence:

According to the National Collision Database, in 2019, 28 percent of traffic fatalities and 42 percent of serious injuries occurred at intersections in Canada.

Countermeasures:

At intersections with traffic signals, some of the most effective safety measures involve separating road users in time and space. Examples of separating road users in time include protected-only left-turn phases, leading pedestrian intervals, and separate signal phases for bicycle and pedestrian movements. Examples of separating road users in space include high visibility crosswalks, designated bicycle crossings, and small corner radii which reduce turning speed and expand the pedestrian area, creating a safer environment for all users. In combination, these measures create what is referred to as a “Protected Intersection”, illustrated below here.

Photo of a protected intersection

“Protected” Intersection (Photo: City of Vancouver)

Photo of a typical modern roundabout

Typical Modern Roundabout (Photo: Google Images)

One of the most effective intersection measures is the modern roundabout shown above (https://www.iihs.org/topics/roundabouts). Roundabouts significantly reduce right-angle (side-impact) and head-on collisions (i.e., when a vehicle is turning left), and therefore can prevent most intersection-related fatalities and serious injuries by requiring vehicles to slow down, approach at an angle, and yield to traffic already on the roundabout before entering https://www.iihs.org/topics/roundabouts.

Road agencies typically conduct Network Screening, which identifies collision-prone intersections, and carry out Road Safety Audits (at the planning or design stage) or In-Service Road Safety Reviews of existing intersections to identify opportunities for reducing the risk of collisions and injuries.

More information:

Intersection Safety FAQs:

What percent of crashes occur at intersections?
This varies by jurisdiction and is typically higher in urban areas. For example, in Ontario, the proportion of total collisions at intersections in 2017 was 41 percent. www.ontario.ca/orsar.

In the City of Hamilton, the proportion of injury collisions at intersections in 2019 was 56 percent. https://www.hamilton.ca/sites/default/files/media/browser/2020-08-19/2019-annual-collision-report.pdf

In 2019, 28 percent of traffic fatalities and 42 percent of serious injuries occurred at intersections in Canada.

How do road agencies know which intersections require the most attention?
Road agencies typically conduct Network Screening, which identifies collision-prone intersections, and carry out Road Safety Audits (at the planning or design stage) or In-Service Road Safety Reviews of existing intersections to identify opportunities for reducing the risk of collisions and injuries.
If roundabouts are so effective, why don’t we have more of them in Canada?
Roundabouts can be costly if they require the road to be widened or private property to be purchased. Also, although roundabouts have gained wide acceptance in Canada, they are still not fully accepted by all members of the public.
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