Navigating intersections can be one of the most challenging tasks for drivers of all experience levels.

At The Wiser Driver Driving School, we believe in equipping drivers with practical tips for staying safe.

This blog post covers different types of intersections and essential driving tips to help you avoid common mistakes.

Read on to improve your intersection driving skills.

What Are Intersection Types?

Understanding different intersection types is crucial for safe driving. Data shows that about 40% of crashes in the United States occur at intersections. By familiarizing yourself with key intersection types, you can significantly reduce your risk of accidents. Here’s how you can navigate them effectively.

Four-way Intersections

Four-way intersections are where two roads cross, creating four entry and exit points. These intersections are high-risk zones due to the complexity of traffic flow. It’s estimated that nearly 50% of all crashes happen at intersections, with four-way stops being a significant portion.

Fact - Why Are Intersections So Dangerous?

To safely navigate a four-way intersection, always approach with caution. Make it a habit to come to a complete stop if you’re required to. Even if you have the right-of-way, watch for drivers who may not yield. Pay close attention to the order of arriving vehicles. Generally, the car that arrives first goes first. If two cars arrive simultaneously, the car on the right goes first. Signaling your intentions clearly and early can also prevent misunderstandings and accidents.


At T-intersections, one road ends while meeting a perpendicular road, creating a T shape. Drivers on the terminating road must yield to traffic on the through road. These interactions are straightforward but can still be prone to errors.

Here, the most effective strategy is to yield and then proceed when it’s safe. Always remain alert for fast-moving vehicles on the through road. Be mindful that drivers coming from the side streets might struggle to judge the speed of oncoming traffic. In such cases, taking that extra moment to ensure the road is clear before moving can prevent collisions. Approximately 8.4% of intersection crashes happen due to misjudging other drivers’ actions, a mistake easily avoided with patience.


Roundabouts have become increasingly popular due to their efficiency in managing traffic flow. However, for many drivers, they can be confusing.

The first rule in roundabouts is yielding to traffic already circulating. Entering without yielding is a common mistake and a primary cause of accidents in these settings. Keeping your speed low and consistent helps maintain a smooth flow and reduces the chance of sudden stops or collisions. Additionally, always signal when you plan to exit so other drivers can anticipate your movements.

Ensure you’re in the correct lane before entering a roundabout. If you miss your exit, it’s safer to go around again rather than making unpredictable lane changes. Understanding these basic principles can make navigating roundabouts straightforward and safe.

Mastering the navigation of these different intersection types with these practical tips will go a long way in enhancing your driving safety. Remember, each intersection comes with its own challenges, but with awareness and practice, you can minimize risks effectively.

How to Drive Safely Through Intersections

Effective intersection driving involves understanding traffic signals, yielding appropriately, and maintaining awareness of your surroundings. Here are practical tips to enhance your intersection safety.

Observing Traffic Signals and Signs

Traffic signals and signs are your primary guides at intersections. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 96% of intersection crashes are due to driver errors, with recognition errors being the most common. Always stay alert and attentive to these critical indicators.

Fact - Why Do Intersection Crashes Happen?

When approaching an intersection, reduce your speed and observe the traffic signals ahead. If the light is yellow, it’s safer to slow down and prepare to stop instead of rushing through. Be mindful of pedestrian signals as well. An additional few seconds of vigilance can prevent significant accidents.

Yielding the Right of Way

Properly yielding the right of way can drastically reduce the risk of collisions. Nearly 29% of intersection crashes result from decision errors, such as failing to yield. At four-way stops, the car that arrives first goes first. If two cars arrive simultaneously, the vehicle on the right has the right of way. At T-intersections and roundabouts, yielding to oncoming and circulating traffic is essential.

When in doubt, always yield. Taking that extra moment to confirm the other vehicle’s actions can prevent common accidents caused by false assumptions about other drivers’ moves. Avoid aggressive driving tactics and respect the established rules for yielding.

Checking Blind Spots and Using Mirrors

A critical component of intersection safety is being fully aware of your surroundings. Inadequate surveillance of surroundings accounts for approximately 44.1% of intersection crashes. Always check your mirrors frequently and make a habit of turning your head to check blind spots before making any turns or lane changes.

Proper use of mirrors can help you detect vehicles and pedestrians that might not be immediately visible. Adjust your side and rearview mirrors to minimize blind spots. Be sure to use turn signals to communicate your intentions to other drivers. This vigilance is particularly important at intersections where multiple road users converge, and unexpected movements are more common.

By integrating these practice tips into your daily driving habits, you can enhance your safety and navigate intersections more confidently. Each tip addresses a specific and actionable aspect of intersection driving, ensuring you are well-prepared for diverse scenarios you may encounter on the road.

Common Mistakes at Intersections

Intersections are prime spots for errors that can lead to accidents. Understanding and avoiding these common mistakes can drastically improve your safety and driving performance.

Rolling Stops

One prevalent mistake at intersections is failing to come to a complete stop. Known as rolling stops, this error occurs when drivers slow down but don’t stop fully. Rolling through a stop sign not only breaks traffic laws but also increases the risk of collisions. A complete stop gives you the necessary time to observe all directions thoroughly and determine if the path is clear. The importance of this cannot be overstated, as even a fleeting glance can miss a fast-approaching vehicle or pedestrian entering the intersection.

Fact - What Are the Common Mistakes at Intersections?

When approaching a stop sign, ensure that your vehicle comes to a full halt. This means allowing enough time for your vehicle to be completely stationary before proceeding. Practicing full stops is particularly important in residential areas where you might encounter more pedestrian traffic and less predictable driving patterns from other vehicles.

Ignoring Pedestrians and Cyclists

Ignoring pedestrians and cyclists at intersections is a dangerous oversight. These road users are particularly vulnerable and often overlooked by drivers focused solely on vehicular traffic. According to the Federal Highway Administration, increased attentiveness to pedestrian safety can reduce the risk of accidents significantly.

When approaching an intersection, always be on the lookout for pedestrians about to cross. Not only should you be observing the crosswalk, but also the edges of the street where pedestrians might dart out. Similarly, be mindful of cyclists who might be sharing the lane or approaching from a blind spot. Yielding to pedestrians and cyclists is not just courteous but a critical aspect of safe driving. Make it a habit to scan all potential crossing points as you approach any intersection.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a critical error and a leading cause of intersection accidents. Distractions come in many forms: mobile phone usage, eating, adjusting the radio, or even daydreaming. The consequences of a brief moment of inattention can be severe, given that intersections often require quick decision-making and sharp awareness of multiple moving elements.

To combat distracted driving, implement strict no-phone policies while on the road. Utilize hands-free devices if you must communicate, and keep eating or other distractions out of the driver’s seat. Stay focused on the road and actively scan your surroundings to avoid missing important cues like traffic signals, stop signs, or the sudden appearance of a pedestrian. Keeping your attention solely on driving tasks dramatically lowers the risk of intersection-related incidents. Remember, every second counts when navigating complex traffic environments.

By avoiding rolling stops, respecting pedestrian and cyclist right-of-way, and eliminating distractions, you can reduce your chances of making these all-too-common mistakes at intersections. For more detailed advice on handling specific challenges, check out our guide on common driving mistakes. These proactive behaviors help ensure safer driving experiences for everyone.


Navigating intersections safely is essential for all drivers. Following key strategies such as observing traffic signals, properly yielding the right of way, and being vigilant of your surroundings can help prevent common mistakes. Staying alert and attentive can make the difference between a safe journey and a potential accident.

Fact - Are You Navigating Intersections Safely?

Remaining focused at intersections is particularly important because they are high-risk areas with complex traffic flows. Ensuring complete stops, respecting the right of way, and avoiding distractions are critical habits to develop. These practices not only reduce the risk of collisions but also enhance overall driving confidence.

We at The Wiser Driver Driving School are dedicated to promoting safe driving habits through our comprehensive programs. Our offerings, which include state-required Joshua’s Law classes, personalized driving lessons, defensive driving courses for license points reduction, and convenient road testing services, cater to drivers of all ages. With benefits like free online driver education, expert instruction, and insurance rate reductions, we are committed to supporting you on your journey to becoming a skilled and safe driver. For more information, visit The Wiser Driver Driving School.

By integrating these tips and strategies into your everyday driving routine, you can significantly improve your safety and confidence on the road. Always prioritize safety and continue practicing good driving habits to ensure that every trip you take is as safe and smooth as possible.