In countries where motorists drive on the right side of the road, making a left turn is among the more dangerous maneuvers. You are essentially going against the grain of the traffic, and this opens up drivers to a number of potential hazards. Surprisingly, left turn accidents are one of the most common causes of car accidents.
How Common Do Left Turns Cause Car Accidents?
Drivers for UPS almost never take left turns – even if they have to take a longer route to avoid doing so. The company started this practice in the 1970s, and today, they use a sophisticated routing software to avoid left turns whenever possible in the US and other right-side driving countries.
As you might guess, the primary motivation for the world?s largest private ground courier to avoid left turns (when possible) is to save money – UPS says that this policy results in 6 to 8 fewer miles driven per route, saving the company 10 million gallons of fuel per year. But the company also says that not making unnecessary left turns reduces the number of accidents, which keeps their drivers safer and also saves them money.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has studied the correlation between left turns and vehicle accidents. Their report found that turning left is a contributing factor in 61% of all collisions that happen while a vehicle is turning or going through an intersection. By comparison, right turns are a factor in only 3.1% of these types of collisions. When you look at overall accidents, left turns are a factor in 22% of the cases, while right turns are a factor in only 1% of them.
If making a left turn is this dangerous, it stands to reason that the driver that is turning left is assumed to be the one responsible for causing the crash. In a lot of cases, this is true. Someone turning left is turning through oncoming traffic, and a lot of things can go wrong in that scenario.
For one thing, the increased vehicle acceleration required to make the turn can cause the driver to misjudge the speed of an approaching vehicle. Or the car could have an acceleration problem that would make it unable to get through the intersection without avoiding a collision.
Another potential problem is the obstructed view that drivers of larger vehicles have when they turn left. This could cause them to miss smaller vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles that may be crossing the intersection. A driver might also forget to turn their left blinker on, making much more difficult for oncoming traffic to realize that they are intending to turn.
Liability in a Left Turn Accident
Just because left turn drivers have inherent disadvantages that make it more difficult for them to safely complete the turn, this does not necessarily mean they are the ones at fault if an accident occurs. Each individual case is unique, and there are always specific factors that need to be looked at in determining liability for a crash.
For example, if a left turn driver is crossing an intersection while they have a green arrow, then the traffic that is crossing from the other side is required to stop. If another vehicle were to run a red light and crash into the vehicle turning left, then this would clearly be the fault of the other vehicle driver.
Here are a few other cases when a driver other than the one turning left might share at least some of the blame for a left turn accident:
- The other driver was sending a text message while crossing the intersection, which is a violation of Georgia law.
- The other driver was going over the speed limit while crossing the intersection.
- The other driver was legally intoxicated.
A thorough investigation is required to get to determine the exact cause of a left turn accident. This may include a review of any traffic camera or dashboard camera footage that may be available, cell phone records that may show the exact time a driver sent or opened a text, and the testimony of eyewitnesses.
If you have been involved in a left turn accident, do not admit fault for the accident – leave that to the experts to sort out. And after receiving prompt medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained, get in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable auto accident attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.
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