California motorists can maneuver their vehicles in many different ways en route to a specific destination. Some of those maneuvers come with more risk for the vehicle’s occupants than others.
The choices that people make in traffic, including at high-risk locations like intersections, can directly contribute to or diminish their risk of a motor vehicle collision. One traffic maneuver, in particular, has a very strong association with preventable collisions. For example, those in heavy traffic or on dangerous roads may want to avoid turning left as much as possible to reduce their chances of a serious collision.
Left-hand turns are quite dangerous
Drivers intending to turn left at any given location typically need to use their turn signals to communicate their intent to other drivers. Additionally, they need to comply with all signage and traffic lights. They may need to use a designated lane to turn left in some cases.
Despite the existence of left turn lanes and turn signals, many drivers who turn left face an increased risk of a crash with other vehicles. A left-hand turn exposes of vehicle to every lane of oncoming traffic. It is often a relatively slow maneuver, and others may not pause as they should when approaching an intersection with someone conducting a left turn.
According to research, left-hand turns out of the underlying cause of roughly 61% of the collisions that occur at intersections. The risk is so significant that many commercial transportation businesses, like package delivery companies, specifically plan driver routes in a way that minimizes or eliminates left-hand turns.
Drivers can reduce their personal risk by consistently using their turn signals and yielding to others in traffic when they intend to turn left. Even those who have the right of way may benefit from waiting for another light cycle at an intersection, for example, so that they don’t end up struck by drivers trying to beat a yellow light when they conduct what should be a lawful turn.
Crashes related to left turns can cause massive damage to a vehicle and its occupants. They may block access on major roads, increasing the chances of secondary collisions. Drivers who know that they have to travel during busy times or on dangerous roads may want to plan their route carefully to reduce how many times they have to turn left or to avoid turning left at particularly busy locations.
Those involved in a crash may also need to speak up during the investigation process to clarify that they followed the law if they hope to hold the driver who hit them accountable. Ultimately, learning more about different traffic risk factors may benefit those who drive frequently on busy streets in both proactive and reactive ways.