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FHWA Home / Safety / About / Intersection / About | Intersection Safety

About Intersection Safety

Source:Ekspansio,E+,Getty Images
Intersecting roadways are necessary to connect people driving, walking and bicycling from one route to another. However, where roads intersect and paths cross, the resulting conflict points create circumstances where crashes can occur. In fact, each year roughly one–quarter of traffic fatalities and about one–half of all traffic injuries in the United States are attributed to intersections. That is why intersections are a national, state and local road safety priority, and a program focus area for FHWA.

FHWA is committed to the vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our Nation's roadways. Making intersections safer is a critical and essential step toward realizing that vision.

This page presents annual statistics for intersection related traffic fatalities. This data is extracted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis and Reporting System (FARS). To explore this data further, access the FARS Query Tool. The FHWA Safety Program includes crashes where any one of the following are cited in the FARS crash record:

  • Intersection
  • Intersection–related
  • Driveway access
  • Driveway access–related

Unsignalized Intersection Crashes

Unsignalized intersections are the most common type of intersection in the United States and can be:
  • Stop sign–controlled – at least one approach to the intersection is controlled by a stop sign.
  • Yield sign–controlled – at least one approach to the intersection is controlled by a yield sign.
  • Uncontrolled – none of the approaches to the intersection are controlled by a regulatory sign or traffic signal; typically found on very low–volume roads in rural or residential areas.
Unsignalized intersection crashes
Source: FHWA

Fatalities at Unsignalized Intersections

Year Total Traffic Fatalities Traffic Fatalities Involving an Intersection Fatalities Involving an Unsignalized Intersection Pedestrian Fatalities Involving an Unsignalized Intersection Bicyclist Fatalities Involving an Unsignalized Intersection
2015 35,484 9,664 6,741 885 218
2016 37,806 10,414 7,116 1,009 205
2017 37,133 10,301 7,030 983 198
2018 36,835 10,011 6,737 979 220
2019 36,096 10,180 TBD TBD TBD

Signalized Intersection Crashes

Signalized intersection crashes
Source:fstop123,Getty Images Plus
Traffic signals are often chosen for operational reasons, and may involve trade–offs between safety and mobility. Signalized intersections represent about one–third of all intersection fatalities, including a large proportion that involve red–light running.

Fatalities at Signalized Intersections

Year Total Traffic Fatalities Traffic Fatalities Involving an Intersection Traffic Fatalities Involving a Signalized Intersection Traffic Fatalities Involving Red–Light Running at a Signalized Intersection Pedestrian Fatalities Involving a Signalized Intersection Bicyclist Fatalities Involving a Signalized Intersection Pedestrian and Bicyclist Fatalities Involving Red–Light Running at a Signalized Intersection
2015 35,484 9,664 2,923 786 750 119 52
2016 37,806 10,414 3,298 826 795 160 47
2017 37,133 10,301 3,271 890 800 125 46
2018 36,835 10,011 3,274 846 792 135 53
2019 36,096 10,180 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD

Wrong–Way Driving Crashes

Wrong-way driving crashes
Source:Pedro Freithas,iStock/Getty Images Plus
A wrong–way driving crash is defined as one in which a vehicle traveling in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic on a high–speed divided highway or access ramp collides with a vehicle traveling on the same roadway in the proper direction. This definition is typically limited to controlled–access highways and associated ramps, but excludes crashes that result from median crossover encroachments. Wrong–way driving crashes involve high–speed head–on or opposite direction sideswipe crashes, which tend to be more severe than other types of crashes.

Wrong–Way Driving Fatalities

Year Total Traffic Fatalities WWD Traffic Fatalities Involving an Intersection
2015 35,484 405
2016 37,806 451
2017 37,133 415
2018 36,560 428
2019 36,096 TBD
While wrong–way driving, as defined here, is not "intersection–related" in terms of where the crash occurs, it is appropriate to consider it under the umbrella of intersection safety because it originates with an improper maneuver at an intersection. However, the fatalities attributed to wrong–way driving are calculated separately from those for intersections.
Image sources: About Intersection Safety: MoDOT, FLKR, licensed under CC BY 2.0.; Safe System Intersections: deberarr, iStock/Getty Images Plus; Intersection Control Evaluation: CreativeNature_nl, and smolaw11, iStock/Getty Images Plus; Stop–Controlled Intersections: James Andrews, iStock/Getty Images; Corridor Access Management: FHWA; Roundabouts: FHWA; Crossover Intersections: FHWA; Reduced Left–Turn Conflict Intersections: FHWA; Signalized Intersections: FHWA; Other Intersection Designs: NCDOT
Page last modified on March 9, 2021
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