Why Left Turns Are Especially Dangerous

Why Left Turns Are Especially DangerousLeft-turn accidents involve two types of left turns. The most common type of left-turn accident in Columbus occurs at intersections. The second type of left-turn accident occurs when a driver is turning left from a street or highway into the parking lot of a mall, retail store, school, building, or some other off-highway location. Left-turn accidents are more dangerous than right-turn accidents for many reasons, primarily because you turn left, you usually have to cross a lane of oncoming traffic.

According to the last report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), left-turn accidents include:

  • Intersection accidents that have a traffic signal
  • Intersection accidents that have a stop sign
  • Accidents that don’t have a traffic signal or stop sign

The leading causes of left-turn car accidents back then, according to the NHTSA, included making incorrect assumptions about another driver’s actions, obstructed views, some type of external distraction, and misjudging gaps or the speed of other drivers. Other common causes of left-turn accidents included misjudging how much time the driver has left (if there is a traffic signal) before the light turns red, as well as confusion about intersections with left-turn-only lanes and left-turn-only traffic lights.

Though the data from the NHTSA hasn’t been updated in over a decade, the problem remains the same. Making a left continues to be such a danger that Vision Zero San Francisco has a whole campaign dedicated to left-turn safety – and the causes it cites are the same ones the NHTSA cited back in 2010.

Left turns are riskier than right turns because:

  • Left turns have a wider radius
  • There’s more risk of hitting a pedestrian because of the wider arc of the turn
  • Left turns alter the flow of traffic more than right turns
  • Many drivers do not use their turn signals – it’s harder to adjust if the driver in front is turning left than right
  • Drivers turning left need to watch for cars coming towards them, from the left, and from the right – while drivers turning right generally aren’t concerned with drivers to their right

What Columbus traffic laws govern left-hand turns?

Ohio has a specific statute called - Right-of-way rule when turning left. This statute provides:

The operator of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley approaching from the opposite direction, whenever the approaching vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley is within the intersection or so close to the intersection, alley, private road, or driveway as to constitute an immediate hazard.

There can be criminal charges for violations.

Who is responsible for a left-turn car accident?

There are several possibilities for fault in a left-turn car accident.

The driver turning left is responsible

Generally, the driver who is not turning left has the right of way. This means the driver who turns left has the responsibility to wait for drivers on his/her right and drivers coming towards him/her. This is especially true if the driver turning left needs to enter a lane of oncoming traffic. In short, the basic rule is that a driver who turns left bears the risk of an accident.

Another driver is responsible

There are some reasons why a driver who turns left may not be responsible for a left-turn accident. These reasons generally include some act of negligence or a violation of a traffic law by the other driver. For example:

  • A motorist who drives through a red light, when you have a green light or a left-turn only light, bears full or partial responsibility for the traffic accident. This scenario can involve a driver who turns in front of you from the right. The scenario can also include a driver opposite you who has a delayed green traffic light but doesn’t wait until the light turns green.
  • A driver who speeds. Even if another motorist had the green light, that driver cannot travel at 60 mph if the speed limit was 40 mph.
  • A driver who was distracted. Drivers who are texting while driving or doing anything else other than focusing on the road may cause the left-turn accident.

Ohio, Franklin County, or other government entities are responsible

The reason the left-turn accident in Columbus happened may also be due to poor road design.  The governmental entity or agency responsible for the design may be responsible.

At Soroka & Associates, our attorneys may argue that:

  • The intersection should have had a traffic light or a stop sign
  • If the traffic light was not working, that problem should have been addressed
  • A better design might have been a circular design to avoid left-hand turns
  • Better lights and road design may have been required, especially when there are many lanes of travel in each direction

What damages can I claim if I’m injured in a left-turn accident in Columbus?

Left-turn accidents can cause spinal cord injuries, paralysis, brain injuries, broken bones, nerve damage, and many other types of injuries.

Our Columbus accident lawyers demand compensation for all your current and future:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Property damage
  • Loss of life’s pleasures
  • Other damages

If a loved one died, we file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family.

Ohio works under the theory of comparative liability for car accidents. This means that more than one driver, including the victim, may be held partially responsible for the accident. Only victims who are less than 50% responsible are entitled to a recovery.

At Soroka & Associates, we regularly work with investigators who examine the accident site, speak with the police who are called to the accident location, and question everyone involved. When necessary, we work with traffic reconstruction professionals, engineers, and road design experts to show how the accident happened, who is responsible, and how the accident could have been avoided.

To discuss your right to file a claim after a left-turn accident in Columbus, call us at 614-358-6525 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation.