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FHWA Home / Safety / Intersection / Intersection Safety

Unsignalized Intersections

Photo: Pedestrians crossing a Signalized Intersection in a residential area

Overview
Outreach and Education
Technical Materials
Other Resources
Federal and State Research
National Partners

Overview

Intersections are likely points for concentrations of traffic crashes. The crossing and turning maneuvers that occur at intersections create opportunities for vehicle conflicts with other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Unsignalized intersections are of particular concern because they comprise the vast majority of intersections in the U.S.

There are three types of traffic control at conventional unsignalized intersections:

The decision to install STOP or YIELD sign controls involves conducting engineering studies and following the applicable criteria in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

Some unsignalized intersections are considered innovative intersection types. Visit FHWA’s webpages on Roundabouts and Mini Roundabouts and Restricted Crossing U-Turn (RCUT) Intersections to learn more about these intersection types.

The following table summarizes the number of people killed each year at signalized intersections in the United States, based on data extracted from the NHTSA Fatality Analysis and Reporting System (FARS).

Year Total U.S. Traffic Fatalities Intersection Fatalities Unsignalized Intersection Fatalities Unsignalized Intersection Fatalities involving a Pedestrian Unsignalized Intersection Fatalities involving a Bicyclist
2010 32,999 8,633 6,156 752 171
2011 32,479 8,317 5,875 778 156
2012 33,782 8,851 6,233 860 154
2013 32,894 8,676 6,054 814 179
2014 32,675 8,661 5,986 872 195
 

Outreach and Education

Unsignalized roadway with warning stop sign ahead sign

Technical Materials

  1. plus symbol Federal Transportation Resources

    • Unsignalized Intersection Improvement Guide (NCHRP/FHWA/ITE, 2015)
    • Proven Safety Countermeasures – Overview (FHWA, 2012) [HTML]
    • Intersection Safety: A Manual for Local Rural Road Owners (FHWA, 2011) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Stop-Controlled Intersection Safety Through Route Activated Warning System (FHWA, 2011) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Embedded LEDs in Signs (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
    • LED Raised Pavement Markers (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Low-Cost Safety Enhancements for Stop-Controlled and Signalized Intersections (FHWA, 2009)
      [HTML] [PDF]
    • Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (FHWA, 2009)
      • Full Document [HTML] [PDF]
      • Part 2 – Signs [HTML] [PDF]
      • Part 3 – Markings [HTML] [PDF]
      • Part 5 – Traffic Control Devices for Low-Volume Roads [HTML] [PDF]
    • Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
  2. plus symbol Americans with Disabilities Act ADA, Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Resources

    • FHWA Accessibility Resource Library [HTML]
    • Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way; Shared Use Paths – Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (U.S. Access Board, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Large Field Test of New Stereo Detection System for the Pedestrian Signal Phase for the Visually Impaired (FHWA, 2012) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (U.S. Access Board, 2011) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Pedestrian Safety Handbook (American Council of the Blind, 2011) [HTML]
    • Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practices
      • Website Resource [HTML]
      • NCHRP Web-Only Document 150 – Workshop Edition 2010 (TRB, 2009) [PDF]
      • NCHRP Web-Only Document 117A – Original Report (TRB, 2007) [PDF]
    • Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations (U.S. Access Board, 2007) [HTML]
Photo: Unsignalized Intersection - one way traffic signs

Other Resources

Federal and State Research

  1. plus symbol FHWA

    • Advancing Innovative Intersection Safety Treatments for Two-Lane Rural Highways (FHWA, 2015)
    • Where Pedestrians Cross the Roadway Tech Brief (FHWA, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices Final Report (FHWA, 2006) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Driver Attitudes and Behaviors at Intersections and Potential Effectiveness of Engineering Countermeasures (FHWA, 2005) [HTML] [PDF]
  2. plus symbol National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)

    • NCHRP Report 562 – Improving Pedestrian Safety at Unsignalized Crossings (TRB, 2006) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 500 – Volume 5: A Guide for Addressing Unsignalized Intersection Collisions (TRB, 2003) [PDF]
  3. plus symbol States

    • Intersection Conflict Warning System (ICWS) Pooled Fund Study Project
      • Informational Booklet [PDF]
      • Phase 3 – Support and Outreach [HTML]
      • Phase 2 – Coordination and Systems Engineering [HTML]
      • Phase 1 – Developing Consistency in ITS Safety Solutions [HTML]
    • Rural Intersection Conflict Warning System (RICWS) Reliability Evaluation (Minnesota, 2014) [PDF]
    • Rural Expressway Intersection Safety Toolbox: Desktop Reference (Iowa, 2011) [HMTL] [PDF]
    • Innovative Operational Safety Improvements at Unsignalized Intersections (Florida, 2008) [PDF]
    • Strategies to Address Nighttime Crashes at Rural, Unsignalized Intersections (Iowa, 2008) [PDF]
Photo: Unaignalized Intersection

National Partners

Page last modified on February 1, 2017
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