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Are Left Turns More Dangerous for Motorists?

car dashboard showing a left turn signal

Nearly a Quarter of Intersection Crashes Involve Left Turns

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has continually shown over the last decade that turning left is a critical factor that often contributes to crashes. In one study that analyzed collisions in intersections, 22.2% involved turning left while only 1.2% involved turning right.

This issue is so pervasive that popular delivery companies like UPS even plan their routes around making the fewest left turns possible. But what makes them more dangerous? Read on to find out.

What Makes Them More Dangerous?

While the action of turning left is not inherently dangerous, the circumstances that are often present when drivers must take left turns can increase their risk of collisions. Unprotected turns, crossing multiple lanes of traffic, and having the passenger's side of the vehicle exposed to oncoming traffic can all contribute to a decrease in safety.

Drivers also tend to engage in more reckless behavior when making unprotected left turns, like speeding through an open gap rather than waiting for more cars to pass.

Other Road Users May Be More At-Risk

A team of engineers from Brigham Young University looked further into this issue and found that motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians tend to face more inherent danger from left turns than other standard vehicles. 36% of fatal motorcycle crashes result from drivers making left turns into riders, and bicyclists and pedestrians are nearly three times as likely to be involved in a fatal incident when a driver is making a left turn as opposed to a right.

There are many reasons why this may be the case, some of the most frequent being:

  • Driver inattention
  • Lack of visibility
  • Not signaling

When pedestrians have a walk sign while a driver has a green light, they may also grow impatient and act recklessly to make sure they can turn in time. No matter the reason, every road user should be mindful of how left turns can increase their risk of a crash.

Motor vehicle accident? Klein Frank, P.C. is here for you. Schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today by calling (303) 448-8884.

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