Road statistics show that of all normal (and legal) driving maneuvers, the most dangerous is something we do every day: Making a left turn. Studies of intersection wrecks show that making a right turn caused only 4% of collisions, but making a left turn caused a whopping 50% of intersection collisions. The reason has to do with the multiple factors that have to be considered to make a left turn successfully, including traffic from three different directions, estimating speed of cars traveling straight across the intersection, and estimating the amount of time your car will need to cross the intersection, among others.
According to an article in the January-February 2011 issue of AAA magazine, the problem is so pervasive that UPS teaches its drivers to complete routes without making left-hand turns!
“Basically, our longstanding policy has always been to train our drivers to plan routes in loops so they always make only right turns,” says Ronna Branch of UPS.
To make left turns less risky, AAA.com offers these recommendations:
- Find the balance between aggressive and timid driving. Aggressive drivers often overestimate their ability to cross an intersection safely; timid drivers hesitate, linger too long in an intersection, and create a hazard for other drivers. AAA teaches that if the light is green and no other vehicle is ahead of you preparing for the same left turn, it is usually safe to enter the intersection and wait for your time to turn.
- Keep wheels pointed straight. Even though you may want to turn your wheels to the left in preparation for the turn, this is actually dangerous. If your stopped car is hit from behind, the force of the impact along with turned wheels could push you directly in the line of oncoming traffic. If your wheels are straight, a similar impact will push your car straight.
- Stay patient. Don’t make a turn until you are positive that it is safe—ignore impatient drivers around you.
- Plan for right turns only. There’s no glory in a left turn. As AAA.com says, “The safest left turn is the one you don’t make.” If you are in a city or town with roads laid on a grid, it is often easier to drive one block past your intended intersection, take a right at the next street…then another right…then another right. In that case, three rights make a left! (This is less effective in the country, when roads are more likely to wind for miles.)
To read the full article, visit the website at AAA.com.
At HensonFuerst Attorneys, we represent a lot of people who have been injured in wrecks involving left turns in intersections. If you want to learn more about your legal options following a wreck, please feel free to visit our dedicated web page: Motor vehicle collisions. Or, if you prefer the personal touch, call us anytime at 1-800-4LAW-MED. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.