Making a left turn is always a fairly dangerous maneuver. In countries like the US where we drive on the right side of the road, left turn drivers are going against the flow of traffic and a lot can go wrong when a driver is trying to complete the turn. This is especially true when you are trying to turn left at a stoplight that does not have a left turn arrow.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), left turns are a contributing factor in approximately 61% of all accidents that happen while a vehicle is crossing an intersection, and they are a factor in 22% of all motor vehicle accidents. Right turns, on the other hand, are only a factor in 3.1% of intersection crossing accidents, and 1.2% of overall accidents.
UPS is the largest private ground courier in the world. They have thousands of trucks out on the roads every day delivering packages. Because the company has to invest so much time and resources into making their deliveries, they have studied carefully the various factors that can help them save money and reduce the chances of an accident. One policy UPS has had since the 1970s is that their routes are designed so that their drivers almost never take left turns.
UPS has found that by avoiding left turns whenever possible, they are able to reduce the number of miles driven per route and save 10 million gallons of fuel per year. They are also able to minimize their exposure to the potential hazards of making left turns, keeping their drivers safer and saving the company money on insurance premiums at the same time.
Why are Left Turn Accidents So Dangerous?
As we talked about earlier, vehicles that are making a left turn are going against the grain of the traffic, and when this occurs, there are a lot more things that could go wrong. Some of the dangers of left turn accidents include:
- Facing Oncoming Traffic: When you make a left turn at a stoplight, you are turning into the face of oncoming traffic. This type of maneuver increases the chances of a collision with a car that you are crossing in front of.
- Increased Acceleration Necessary: In order to complete the left turn, you will need to increase your acceleration as you get through the intersection. This is one reason why left turns burn so much more fuel (along with the fact that the vehicle idles longer at the intersection). In addition, left turn drivers have to be a lot more skilled at judging the speed of an approaching vehicle and how much they will need to accelerate to complete the turn safely. Finally, if something were to go wrong with the engine while trying to accelerate, this could cause the car to get stuck in the middle of the intersection where a crash would be more likely.
- Potential for Obstructed View: With certain types of vehicles, particularly larger ones where the driver sits up higher like full-size trucks and SUVs, it is more difficult to get a clear view of oncoming traffic. This makes it easier to miss motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians that are crossing because of their smaller profiles.
Who is At Fault in a Left Turn Accident?
Because of all the difficulties that go into making a left turn, the driver who is turning will often be the one who is assumed to be at fault if there is an accident. While this might be a correct assumption in a lot of cases, it is not always true.
There are times when the left turn driver might not be the one at fault in a crash. Here are some examples:
- The left turn driver has a green arrow and the vehicle coming from the opposite direction runs a red light.
- The vehicle coming from the opposite direction exceeds the speed limit and arrives at the intersection before they should have.
- The driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash was sending or receiving a text on their phone and not watching where they were going when the collision occurred.
- The driver of the other vehicle was legally intoxicated.
Injured in a Left Turn Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer
Left turn drivers are often thought to be responsible when an accident occurs at a traffic crossing, but this is not always the case. As with every car accident, there are factors and circumstances that are unique to each case. If you or someone close to you got injured in a vehicle accident, you need strong legal counsel in your corner working hard to navigate the complexities of your case and recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If your accident occurred in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland, P.C. for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844 for a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.