Four Buffalo Grove High School students were killed in a crash at an intersection on May 16 that has left the community reeling. Three of the teens were residents of Wheeling, and the fourth was from Arlington Heights.
Per Chicago’s Daily Herald, the victims were Richard De Ita, 18; Kevin R. Hernandez-Teran, 17; Jesus Rodriguez, 16; and 17-year-old Ricky Barcenas. The crash occurred around 10:20 pm on Tuesday and involved two other vehicles. The other drivers survived with injuries. There was also another passenger in the teens’ car who was injured but survived.
This is a terrible tragedy for residents and Buffalo Grove High, especially because of the young age of the victims with their entire lives in front of them. We mourn along with students, friends, family, and the community.
We need to discuss the dangers of Chicago’s intersections
We also worry. We’re in “graduation season” now, which means there are probably a lot of younger drivers out on the road. And we remember feeling invincible behind the wheel when we were their age. So today, we want to talk a little bit about the dangers of intersections, because Chicago appears to have a higher percentage of intersection crashes than other cities. A 2022 report by INRIX Signal Analytics states “Nationally, 40% of collisions occur at intersections, according to NHTSA. Within Chicago, however, INRIX data reveals a higher proportion of crashes near intersections. During the four months analyzed, Chicago reported 34,729 crashes, with 20,171 occurring within 400 feet of a signal, representing 58% of reported collisions.”
You can see where some of the more dangerous intersections are here:
(image from report)
So, let’s break down what these crashes are and how you may be able to protect yourself while you’re traveling.
What is an intersection accident?
An intersection accident refers to a collision or incident that occurs at the junction of two or more roads or streets where vehicles cross paths. Intersections are common sites for accidents because vehicles from different directions must navigate through a shared space. These accidents can involve different types of vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, trucks, or bicycles.
Intersection accidents can happen due to various reasons, including:
- Failure to yield. One of the most common causes of intersection accidents is when a driver fails to yield the right of way to another vehicle or pedestrian who has the right of way.
- Red light or stop sign violations. Drivers who disregard traffic signals or stop signs at intersections may cause collisions with vehicles crossing their paths.
- Turning conflicts. Accidents can occur when drivers make left or right turns at intersections without yielding to oncoming traffic or misjudging the speed or distance of other vehicles.
- Distracted driving. When drivers are distracted by activities such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting vehicle controls, they may fail to notice other vehicles or pedestrians at intersections.
- Speeding. Excessive speed reduces the time available for drivers to react to changing traffic conditions at intersections, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Impaired driving. Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver's judgment, reaction time, and coordination, increasing the risk of intersection accidents.
Intersection accidents can result in a range of consequences, including property damage, injuries, and even fatalities. To minimize the risk of intersection accidents, drivers must be attentive, follow traffic rules and signals, yield the right of way when necessary, and exercise caution when turning or crossing intersections.
How can I avoid an intersection accident in Chicago?
To reduce the risk of an intersection accident, here are some important guidelines to follow:
- Observe traffic signals and signs. Always pay attention to traffic signals, stop signs, and yield signs at intersections. Follow them carefully and yield the right of way when required.
- Check for cross-traffic. Before entering an intersection, check for cross-traffic from all directions. Look left, right, and left again to ensure there are no vehicles approaching or pedestrians crossing.
- Maintain a safe following distance. Leave enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you to allow for sudden stops or changes in traffic flow. This provides you with a buffer zone to react in case of unexpected events at intersections.
- Be cautious when turning. When making a turn at an intersection, use your turn signals to indicate your intentions in advance. Yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians, and ensure you have enough time to complete the turn safely.
- Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Intersections are also shared spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Be vigilant and watch for pedestrians crossing the street or cyclists approaching from different directions. Yield to them as necessary.
- Avoid distractions. Avoid any distractions while driving, such as using your phone, eating, or engaging in other activities that take your attention away from the road. Stay focused on the task of driving to better anticipate and react to intersection situations.
- Be cautious during adverse conditions. Exercise extra caution at intersections during adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or fog. Reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces can increase the risk of accidents, so slow down and allow for extra stopping distance.
- Be aware of blind spots. Adjust your mirrors properly and physically turn your head to check for vehicles in your blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn at an intersection. This helps ensure you have a clear view of your surroundings.
- Be predictable. Maintain a steady and predictable speed, especially when approaching and crossing intersections. Abrupt changes in speed or erratic driving behavior can confuse other drivers and increase the chances of a collision.
Remember, defensive driving is crucial when it comes to intersection safety. Anticipate the actions of other drivers, be prepared to yield when necessary, and always exercise caution to avoid potential accidents.
Again, our hearts are with the family and friends of the Buffalo Grove High School teens who died in the tragic crash.
Gainsberg Law represents car accident and injury victims in Chicago and throughout the surrounding areas. No matter who caused the crash that resulted in your injuries, we want to help. Questions? Call us today or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More