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Left-Hand Turns: How They Affect Road Safety

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2021 | Personal Injury

The U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that left hand-turns are the most dangerous type of driving maneuver. Left-hand turns require all drivers to be extremely attentive to potential hazards. Drivers who take extra precautions when making left-hand turns will be better able to avoid devastating left-hand-turn collisions.

The Dangers of Making Left-Handed Turns

When you turn right, there are still reasons to be concerned, but there are fewer threats because you don’t have to enter into the intersection. The following are some of the reasons that left-hand turns are more dangerous than other driving maneuvers.

The Coast Is Not Clear

Drivers may not have the best vantage point when another driver across the intersection is turning. This can lead to thinking the coast is clear when it really isn’t and a car is speeding through to beat the yellow light.

Judging Speed Correctly

Gauging the right time to make a left-hand turn can be difficult, especially when traffic is congested. Incorrect timing can result in a T-bone accident with another car crashing into the side of the turning vehicle.

Blind Turns

Anything blind is scary when it comes to driving. Left-hand turns can sometimes feel like a leap of faith, and not everyone lands correctly.

Beating the Yellow Light

Rushing through a yellow light is never a good idea, but is a worse idea for drivers turning left. If the light turns red, it can mean more trouble than a ticket. This can result in serious vehicle accident injuries at higher speeds than are normal for an intersection.

Sudden Stops While Waiting

A lot of caution must be used when making a left-hand turn because there are more people involved. If a driver starts to enter the intersection at four-way stop and realizes another driver is going to go first, they may stop the forward progression abruptly. The car that is next in line may not recognize the stop fast enough, thus causing a rear-end collision.

New Intersections

When drivers are in new places, it is hard to anticipate the nuances of an intersection. In your hometown you may know that people come fast around that one corner or tend to run the stop sign in that other spot, and you are prepared. Changing surroundings takes additional focus to execute safely.

Statistics Regarding Left-Hand Turns and Intersections

The U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted extensive research on accident causes. The most recent report attributes 36% of vehicle accidents to intersection collisions. Intersection accidents were nearly 335 times more likely to involve an obstructed view. The other common reasons for intersection accidents include:

  • Inadequate surveillance,
  • Illegal maneuvers,
  • False assumption of another’s actions, and
  • Misjudgment of gap or the speed of another vehicle.

Most of these were related to left-hand turns. A study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration looked at intersection crashes and found that left-hand turns were a contributing factor for 60% of accidents at a particular intersection.

How Left-Hand Turns Affect Road Safety

Many of the normal factors that contribute to less-than-ideal driving conditions are greatly exacerbated by left-hand turns.

  • Environmental factors: Hills, blind turns, big trees, and other factors can make it challenging to know when to make the left-hand turn.
  • Vehicle type: Smaller vehicles can be more difficult to see and may go unnoticed when drivers are making a left turn. Bigger vehicles have the problem of slower acceleration times when trying to get through the intersection in a timely manner.
  • Road conditions: Slippery roads and limited visibility make any driving conditions dangerous. Trying to make a left turn can result in sliding, overcorrecting, or running into a vehicle that was not visible.
  • Heavy traffic congestion: The frustration of waiting forever to get where you are going can cause drivers to be more aggressive and fail to properly analyse the dangers of the left-hand turn.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists: It is difficult enough to see another vehicle, and placing focus on other motorists may distract from pedestrians and cyclists in the turning path.
  • Night driving: Some drivers just don’t see so well in the dark. Glaring headlights don’t help. They make it difficult to judge speed and can be a perfect storm when paired with a left turn.

UPS made adjustments to delivery routes over a decade ago to minimize left-hand turns. In this case, the purpose was to eliminate the time drivers wait at intersections. It also saved 10 million gallons of fuel, had a positive impact on carbon emissions, and has been attributed to the delivery of 350,000 more packages.

Left-Hand Turn Accident Liability

Despite the increased risk of making left-hand turns, it is the responsibility of drivers to safely execute the maneuver. Even if some of the extenuating circumstances impacted the driver’s ability to react in an ideal way, they are still liable for the damage. Looking both ways and identifying all oncoming traffic might be more difficult, but it is possible, and with careful driving, many accidents can be avoided.

If you were in a vehicle accident involving a left-hand turn, you may be eligible for compensation for your damages. Tennessee is an “at-fault” state, which means the driver responsible for the accident will be liable for all associated costs. Kentucky is a “choice no-fault” state, which means divers are responsible for carrying personal injury protection insurance, but may opt-out of the no-fault system. This means that where your accident occurs also matters.

It is important to keep a detailed record of all expenses associated with your accident. This may include hospital or doctor visits, medication, physical therapy, costs to hire help, lost wages, and more. You may also receive compensation for pain and suffering depending on the seriousness of your injuries.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

It is important to refrain from accepting an initial offer from the responsible party’s insurance company until you have received counsel. Insurance companies are not in the business of giving you as much as they can and have legal teams dedicated to negotiating on the company’s behalf. The experienced team at Batson Nolan PLC, is dedicated to fighting on your behalf and not settling for less than what you deserve.

The team at Batson Nolan PLC has over 100 years of combined experience and understands the complex legal system. From investigating the incident to negotiations and litigation, we are here to help make sure you get what you deserve to take care of your needs. Contact us today to schedule your case consultation.