The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) notes that there are several reasons why left turns are so dangerous. These turns result in accidents because drivers have to take several traffic flows into account while watching for pedestrians. Left-turns also call for more physical effort to turn the wheel than other maneuvers.
Left turns cause a disproportionate number of preventable pedestrian deaths (40% of all pedestrian-vehicle accidents). People are concerned about the high number of vehicle collisions and pedestrian accidents involving left turns. This has resulted in calls for municipalities to ban left turns at intersections entirely in high traffic areas.
How Does the Higher Turning Radius Increase the Danger of this Maneuver?
Yes. When a car turns right at an intersection, there is little distance to cover, and they do not have to cross street lanes that could contain head-on traffic. However, a left-turning driver has to cover a longer distance and safely clear at least one lane of potential head-on traffic when completing the maneuver.
A left-turning car is likely to accelerate more than a right-turning vehicle to avoid getting struck. The faster speed increases the likelihood of catastrophic injury or death to a pedestrian. Also, a driver is more likely to lose control of a car when suddenly accelerating in a turn.
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Does Turning Left Impair the Driver’s Visibility?
Yes, the left-turning driver’s visibility can get obscured by parked cars, signs, trees, and other features. This is one of the main causes of pedestrian accidents. The driver’s own vehicle can obscure his vision more when turning left than when turning right. Also, the driver might only glance at the crosswalk before starting a left turn out of the more pressing concern of checking for oncoming vehicles.
At the end of the left turn, the crosswalk is further away from the driver’s starting point than the final crosswalk in a right turn. The increased distance makes it less likely that a left-turning driver will notice a pedestrian than a driver turning right would.
Children Are Especially Vulnerable when Crossing the Street
Among the list of pedestrians most at risk of injury, children rank fairly high. They often suffer severe and fatal injuries when crossing the street from getting hit by drivers making left turns. Children are often shorter than adults.
This makes younger people more difficult to see, particularly in left-turn situations when the driver’s visibility might get blocked by other things. For this reason, children are especially in danger of severe harm or death because of left turns.
Are Left Turns More Difficult Than Right Turns?
Yes, making a left turn at an intersection is generally more complicated than a right turn. The turning vehicle is in harm’s way when executing a left turn, much more so than with a right turn. The driver can get nervous about clearing the intersection safely if worried about getting hit head-on.
When humans have to perform multiple functions at the same time, the odds of an error increase. Left turns require more mental and physical effort than right turns. It is understandable that the driver’s workload in a left turn could create an unwanted outcome.
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Should Cities Ban Left Turns in High Traffic Areas?
The magazine Popular Mechanics, argues that some left turns should get banned. According to the publication, new research reveals that turning left is one of the most dangerous driver maneuvers.
Eliminating left turns in certain situations could make the roads much safer. Most of the crashes that happen at intersections involve at least one driver turning left. More left-turn arrows and longer yellow lights could reduce the collisions.
The research indicates that much more stringent measures would be much more effective, though. Several large cities already ban left turns at many intersections.
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Would Eliminating Left Turns at Intersections Slow Down Traffic?
Some people object to making multiple right turns instead of one left turn, saying that the safety measure would take longer than turning left. In reality, right turns are easier and often faster than waiting for traffic to clear to make a left turn.
So, eliminating left turns could improve traffic flow and decrease traffic jams. Also, a crash can delay you much longer than making a few right turns.
However, making multiple right turns is not feasible in some situations due to one-way streets, busy roads, and other grid issues. For that reason, the decision to ban left turns at intersections should get considered on a case-by-case basis. In less congested areas, for example, left-turn restrictions would be impractical and a waste of fuel.
Victims of Left-Turn Accidents Have Advocates in the Strong Arm
At Loncar Lyon Jenkins, we help people who get hurt due to the negligence of others. You can call us today at (877) 239-4878 to find out how we can help you. We are happy to offer a free initial consultation with no obligation.