Why Are Left Turn Accidents So Dangerous for Pedestrians?

February 5, 2021 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Why Are Left Turn Accidents So Dangerous for Pedestrians?

Are left-turn accidents more dangerous than others for pedestrians?

Why Are Left Turn Accidents So Dangerous for Pedestrians - Riddle & Brantley

Making a left-hand turn in a vehicle can be a challenging and dangerous maneuver. It is also one of the most dangerous to pedestrians. Court decisions that determine liability in auto accidents often stress that the left turn is risky and requires an abundance of care. Accidents involving serious injuries and fatalities among pedestrians and drivers are more common at or near traffic intersections, and the left-hand crash is the type of accident most likely to result in serious injury to pedestrians.

Why are left turns so dangerous for pedestrians?

  • Drivers tend to accelerate into a left turn. Taking a left turn requires a wider radius and can lead to higher speeds and greater pedestrian exposure. For drivers, this split-second decision-making is called “driver workload.” The more a driver must process when turning left, the more likely a mistake may be made.
  • Left-hand turns are more physical and take more mental effort than right-and turns. Left-hand turns can be risky for older adult drivers because they require more driver effort.
  • Wider vehicle A-pillars reduce visibility. Pillars are vertical supports on a vehicle and are located around the glass of an automobile. These pillars hold glass in place and add structural integrity to a vehicle, especially the roof. The A-pillar is the front piece of the car frame and holds the windshield in place and supports the roof. These pillars must be strong enough to withstand a vehicle rollover and they often house air bags. As safety standards have evolved, so has the size of these pillars. A-pillars may create blind spots for the driver.
  • The left-turning driver has a green light right when pedestrians have the walk light. This can be a major problem as drivers do not always anticipate pedestrians crossing at the same time.

The UPS Solution?

Does UPS Avoid Left Turns - Riddle & Brantley

The United Parcel Service (UPS) has a different way of handling left-hand turns. They just don’t make them! UPS gives each driver specific  routes to follow and has a policy that drivers should never turn left through oncoming traffic unless absolutely necessary. UPS also plots a right-turning loop for their drivers because the company does not want drivers to waste gas and time while waiting for a gap in oncoming traffic in order to take a left turn.

Pedestrian Accidents in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reports that pedestrian fatalities in North Carolina have been on the rise in the last 10 years. Pedestrians are vulnerable users of the roads, so it is important that drivers be on the lookout for pedestrians crossing the road.

However, it is also important for pedestrians to be aware of the rules that keep them safe, as well as their rights if injured by a negligent driver in North Carolina.

Here are a few laws that pedestrians and drivers should know:

  • No-walk signals at intersections – The pedestrian must obey the streetlight signals for traffic heading in the same direction.
  • Walk signals at intersections – Many intersections have designated pedestrian walk signals. These signals give pedestrians the right of way when the signal says “walk.” Drivers must yield to pedestrians when they have a “walk” sign.
  • Unmarked Crosswalks – If there is a sidewalk for pedestrians that ends at an intersection but continues on the other side of the intersection, the area between the two is an “implied” crosswalk (even if there are not any lines). Pedestrians still have the right of way in this case.
  • Mid-Block Crosswalks – Mid-block crosswalks occur at non-intersections and usually don’t have pedestrian walk signals. These crosswalks are considered the same as intersection crosswalks. This means drivers must yield for pedestrians standing at or crossing a designated crosswalk.
  • Highways – Drivers have the right of way on highways. In general, pedestrians should not cross highways as there is no designated crossing area. The vehicles on highways are traveling at high speeds and may not be able to stop for pedestrians. It is important for pedestrians to pay close attention if they have to cross a busy highway.
  • No Crosswalk – If there is not a crosswalk and a pedestrian decides to cross the street, it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to watch for vehicles because drivers have the right of way in this case.

Contributory Negligence in North Carolina Pedestrian Accident Cases

North Carolina is one of five states that follow the law of contributory negligence when determining a victim’s right to compensation. Contributory negligence means that the victim is partially to blame for the accident. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, the person injured will not be able to recover compensation for their injuries if he or she was partially responsible for the accident — even if the driver is mostly at fault.

There are several actions that could count as contributory negligence when it comes to pedestrians. These include:

  • Choosing to cross the street without a crosswalk
  • Crossing when the pedestrian signal shows “Don’t Walk”
  • Scurrying across the street just as the pedestrian signal changes to “Don’t Walk”
  • Crossing the road with earbuds in or while concentrating on your phone
  • Expecting vehicles on the highway to yield to you while crossing

Improving Left-Turn Safety for Drivers and Pedestrians

Transportation departments in many states are rethinking the mechanics of making a left turn. The goal is to find ways to improve safety and reduce the likelihood of any type of collision with other vehicles or pedestrians.

Have You Been Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?

Accidents involving left-hand turns highlight the importance of having an experienced North Carolina pedestrian accident lawyer to represent you. At Riddle & Brantley, we will evaluate the facts of your accident and answer any questions you may have.

We're proud of the results we deliver for our clients. Since 1999 alone, we've recovered more than $600 million in compensation on behalf of injured victims in North Carolina (see disclaimer below).

“Riddle & Brantley found me all the available money from the insurance companies.”

-David Howard, Riddle & Brantley client

*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.