LETTER: Smarter intersection interactions, lower risks

How many intersections do you encounter on a daily basis?

Would you even be able to estimate the total number?

Whether you travel by car, bicycle, transit or foot, intersections are part and parcel of our daily lives.

Yet, the rules and guidelines for how to navigate them safely aren’t always top of mind.

We each have numerous intersection interactions each and every day – how do we know if we’re approaching them safely?

Travel with Care, a campaign established by the City of Auburn and Auburn University to address transportation safety concerns in the City of Auburn, has launched its 2017 campaign – “Know When To Go: Intersection Interactions.”

The focus of this year’s annual awareness campaign is on intersection safety and right-of-way in all transportation situations, whether that includes driving, cycling or walking.

Any member of law enforcement will tell you that the most common place for traffic accidents to occur is at intersections.

Auburn is no different; many of our accidents are, in fact, intersection related.

It is our goal to work together with the community to reduce these occurrences.

Just consider all the potential conflicts that occur in a typical four-way intersection.

With drivers, cyclists and pedestrians each attempting to make it to their destinations in the quickest way possible, it’s no wonder intersections are a hotbed for collisions.

“Intersection Interactions” takes a look at the most common situations intersection users are likely to encounter and offers reminders to Auburn University students and Auburn’s citizens about who has the right of way in a given situation.

Here are a few of the most important takeaways:

- It’s a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right of way to cross the street at a designated cross walk.

In reality, pedestrians should only step into a crosswalk if they have enough time to cross without causing an approaching car to slow down.

- If there is a crosswalk signal present, pedestrians should only cross when the signal instructs them to do so.

- Drivers must always share the road with cyclists, even when there is no designated bike lane, and should maintain at least three feet between their vehicle and the cyclist.

- Cyclists are never supposed to ride on sidewalks.

- When a driver needs to make an unprotected left turn (a turn without a green arrow), the driver should always wait until both the traffic lanes AND the crosswalk are clear.

Last year, there were 2,017 total reported accidents in the City of Auburn.

Of that total, 332 involved injury, 353 involved left-hand turns and 122 involved right-hand turns.

By working together and better understanding common intersection interactions, we can lower these numbers until we reach our ultimate goals of zero injuries and zero fatalities due to traffic collisions.

To learn more about the “Know When To Go: Intersection Interactions” campaign, visit www.travelwithcareauburn.com.

Paul Register is the chief of police for the City of Auburn. He has been with the Auburn Police Division for nearly 30 years.

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