According to NTSA data, crossing or turning at an intersection precipitates 1/3 of vehicular crashes. Of those crashes, roughly 60% involve left turns.
Left-turn mishaps frequently result in T-bone crashes, when the front end of one vehicle plows into the middle section of another. These crashes are among the most dangerous, often leading to devastating injuries and fatalities — side-impact airbags notwithstanding.
When motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians get caught up in the chaos, it’s even more disastrous. Whether at fault or not, their increased vulnerability to serious injury (or worse) is obvious.
Fault for left-turn accidents typically lies with the left-turning driver. The left-turning driver must always yield to oncoming traffic that has the right of way (or proceed only when oncoming traffic is far enough away). Drivers need to use the proper turning lane, click on their turn signal, and allow for pedestrians and bicyclists to clear crosswalks.
But left-turning drivers aren’t always at fault. If an oncoming driver was speeding, they may be liable for a crash. However, without witnesses or video evidence, the left-turning driver may be left holding the bag.
Other exceptions include oncoming drivers who run stop signs or stoplights, or who drive while intoxicated or distracted. Unforeseen circumstances such as a pedestrian or animal that darts into the road and delays the completion of the left turn might shift liability to the oncoming driver.
Some commercial delivery companies (e.g., UPS) instruct their drivers to avoid left turns whenever feasible. Although improved economics sparked the policy, heightened safety is an added bonus.
If you are injured due to another driver’s negligence, contact our office to protect your rights.