According to a 2010 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 36% of all collisions happen at intersections. Of these accidents, the single largest cause of collisions was vehicles making left turns. There are a number of reasons why a left-hand turn can be so dangerous and the laws that apply to turns at intersections can make resolving these claims even more difficult.
Why Are Left Turns So Dangerous?
First, usually when a vehicle is making a left turn, the driver is turning across oncoming traffic. However, when other drivers are driving down a straightaway, they sometimes get too focused on traveling forward and can fail to notice there is a vehicle waiting to make a left hand turn ahead. This causes a dangerous situation and numerous rear-end wrecks a year.
Second, the driver making a left hand turn may mistakenly think that an oncoming driver is slowing down to allow the maneuver, especially if that vehicle is using a turn signal. Misjudging these situations is another way a left turn accident can easily happen.
Third, on the other hand drivers making a left hand turn sometimes try to “beat” the oncoming traffic. This is a very dangerous practice. It’s very hard to judge how much time is needed to “beat” the traffic, and if a driver’s calculations are even a little bit off, there is a huge risk that decision is going to cause a serious motor vehicle accident.
Finally, oncoming traffic is usually traveling at a higher speed than the turning vehicle. Anytime speed increases, the risk of a severe collision goes up, and so does the risk of injury. As a general rule, the higher the speed, the worse the damages to the vehicles and people can be.
The Law Makes Left-Hand Turn Claims Even More Complex
Louisiana law states: “The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
In plain language, that means that when a driver is turning left, you have the duty to yield to oncoming traffic. Other states, such as Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, have similar regulations that also place this duty on drivers. Because a left turn is one of the most dangerous maneuvers for a driver to execute, if you are in an accident where you are the driver making the left hand turn, you will almost always be found at fault for failing in your duty to yield to oncoming traffic. In Louisiana, there will even be a legal presumption that you were negligent. This means that the law will assume you are at fault until you show otherwise.
While it is possible to show that you were not negligent when making a left turn, it is often very difficult because doing so requires knowledge of the law and evidence showing who really caused the collision. This process causes trouble for you and your attorney, because more time and effort is required to argue who was at fault for the accident. Sometimes, you will even be placed at fault in a police report, even if you believe the other driver was at fault. These factors make left turn accidents even more complicated than other motor vehicle claims.
No matter what, the law is not on the side of the left hand turner. Keep this in mind the next time you’re in a hurry to get to your favorite restaurant across the intersection. When making a left turn, not only is it important to remember to yield to oncoming traffic, but also to wait that extra couple of seconds to confirm the “all clear” before you go. This will make the road a safer place for everyone and possibly even prevent you from being involved in a serious left turn collision.
Morris Bart attorneys are experienced in handling left turn collision claims.
Dealing with a collision can be a lot easier if you have a good attorney, especially if you were turning left when the accident happened. Morris Bart Personal Injury Attorneys have decades of experience dealing with the complexities of insurance claims and car accidents. If you’ve been involved in an accident, call Morris Bart for a free consultation. We’re available 24/7, and we’d like to help you get the money you may deserve.