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Why Are Left Turns So Dangerous?

Even the shortest of drives can be dangerous, but some parts of driving are more dangerous than others. Left turns in particular are especially dangerous, a fact that’s backed by data from the NHTSA and other organizations.

While drivers can take steps to improve their safety when performing left turns, the nature of crossing an intersection means it’s especially important to be vigilant. Car accident attorneys know the risks of left turns, so here are a few guidelines for avoiding potentially dangerous situations.

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Difficulty Judging Speed

When performing a left turn without a green turn arrow, drivers need to judge the speed of other vehicles. Although experience can help drivers make these decisions, momentary lapses in judgment can create a dangerous situation, especially if the driver going straight through the intersection doesn’t have sufficient time to slow down. When making a left turn, it’s critical to exercise extra caution, as misjudging the speed of oncoming traffic can cause your vehicle to be struck—and T-bone accidents are among the worst types of collisions.

Obstructed View

When cars traveling in the opposite direction are also waiting to turn left, it can be difficult to see drivers going straight through the intersection. This obstructed view can cause drivers to initiate a left turn when it’s unsafe. Furthering the risk, drivers traveling straight may not be able to see your car until it’s too late, which can result in a dangerous T-Bone collision.

It can be frustrating trying to turn left in such a situation when there’s no green turn signal. However, caution is critical to avoiding some of the most dangerous types of crashes, including left turn accidents.

Sudden Obstructions

In some situations, even the most cautious drivers can find themselves in a dangerous situation while attempting to turn left. If a driver in the opposite left turn lane decides to switch to driving straight through the intersection—a scenario our car accident lawyers have seen time and again—the other driver who initiated a left turn might be unable to make it through the intersection in time. This can leave the driver vulnerable to being struck by vehicles traveling in any direction.

Furthermore, drivers sometimes attempt to turn right on a red light without yielding to vehicles making a left turn, which can lead a driver attempting to turn left stranded in the middle of an intersection—a very risky scenario.

Unfamiliar Intersections

Judging the speed of oncoming vehicles is important to staying safe, and so is being able to judge the width of an intersection. When drivers don’t fully appreciate just how wide an intersection is, they might initiate turns that take longer than they anticipated. Exercise extra caution when driving through an unfamiliar intersection, and ensure you see just how far you have to travel. Not all intersections cross at exact square angles, and a few extra feet of travel distance can be the difference between a safe turn and a devastating crash.

Yellow Lights

It’s never fun to wait through yet another traffic signal cycle, so people making a left turn often end up speeding through. However, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction might feel the same way, leading them to accelerate when the light turns yellow. This can lead to serious crashes, especially if neither driver sees the other in time. When in doubt, exercise patient; a few minutes saved is not worth the potential risks of making a dangerous left turn.

Driving safely requires constant vigilance, as small mistakes can lead to disastrous results. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself for high risk scenarios, and left turns are among the most riskiest maneuvers to make on the road.

Take your time when driving, and ensure you only enter an intersection when you can complete the entire turn safely. As experienced car accident lawyers know, brief dips in attentiveness and moments of poor judgment can lead to injuries or even death.

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