Many Junction City area drivers have faced a dilemma when driving through various neighborhoods in town.
As they approach an intersection with no sign telling them they need to stop or yield, they’ll notice the streets to their right and left don’t have a stop or yield sign either. They’ve just approached an uncontrolled intersection. When speaking about driving, the word “uncontrolled” in itself is scary enough.
Some drivers know what to do when there’s nothing there to tell them to stop or yield. Others might have trouble remember.
Back in February, there was a two car accident at the intersection of Walnut Street and Madison Street. It wasn’t clear at the time I reported the accident who was at fault. But as the responding officer pointed out, it was bad timing. Both cars entered the intersection at the same. The responding officer said it was due to the intersection not having any posted signs.
As it says in the Kansas Driver’s Manuel, drivers must do everything possible they can to prevent striking a pedestrian, property or another vehicle regardless of the circumstances.
So, when it comes to uncontrolled intersections, where no stop or yield sign or traffic signal exists, drivers are required to yield to vehicles in the intersection or those on the right.
When an accident occurs, a police investigation comes down to who has a legal right to be in an intersection. With controlled intersections, which Junction City Police Chief Dan Breci said 90 percent of the city’s intersections are (there are 504 controlled intersections in Junction City), a lot of residents may think every intersection should have a sign.
“That would be cost prohibited,” he said.
So, it comes down to who gets to the intersection first.
And if two cars enter the uncontrolled intersection at the same time and collide right in the middle, Breci said police will have to ask themselves whether they can even determine who got their first.
“Sometimes we can. Sometimes it’s a draw. They’re both there at the exact same point,” he said.
Police will inspect damage on the cars.
“If it’s a foot back from the headlight, then one car was there before the other,” Breci said.
Not every intersection is going to get a stop or yield sign, unless accidents are frequently taking place there.
If accidents occur at an intersection, say, twice a year, it’s generally not going to lead the Public Works Department to post a traffic sign there.
Otherwise, nothing should stop drivers from doing whatever’s necessary to avoid an accident. A sign doesn’t need to be posted for drivers to approach an intersection with caution.