Left-Turning Motorists at Intersections Pose an Accident Risk for Motorcycle Riders
Left-turn accidents are dangerous for anyone, especially motorcyclists. Unfortunately, left-turn crashes where vehicles turning left hit motorcycles going straight through a stop sign or intersection are one of the most common types of motorcycle crashes. Left-turn wrecks can cause the motorcycle rider to suffer life-altering injuries—even if he was wearing a helmet—such as skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, spinal injuries, abdominal injuries, facial disfigurement, or death. However, he may be entitled to compensation for his losses from the negligent driver who caused his injuries. Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can be critical to obtaining a favorable settlement from the driver’s insurance company—who could fight paying the claim because motorcycle accidents tend to be more severe and costly.
Common Causes of Deadly Left-Turn Crashes
Left-turn collisions happen for a number of reasons that center on the motorist’s negligence. Common reasons these accidents occur include:
- Failing to see the rider. Because of the smaller size of the motorcycle, it is less visible to others on the road. Many left-turn accidents occur when a driver does not see the motorcycle and slams into it as it goes through the intersection.
- Trying to beat a light. Often a motorist trying to beat the light and turn left will not see that a motorcyclist—who has right of way—is legally entering the intersection to proceed straight and will hit him—often at an increased speed. He could also misjudge the time he has to safety get through the light.
- Driving through an intersection illegally. Some motorists will make a left turn illegally when a light is red or the motorcycle rider has the right of way at a stop sign—with deadly consequences for the rider.
- Passing a vehicle. When a driver is passing a vehicle, he may be speeding or too focused on the vehicle he is trying to pass to see the oncoming motorcycle.
- Distracted driving. Being able to see smaller motorcycles and judging the time to turn left at a light requires a driver’s total concentration. When he is texting, talking on a cell phone, or eating and drinking, he can fail to see the rider or otherwise make a mistake that causes a left-turn accident.
Who Is at Fault in a Left-Turn Motorcycle Wreck?
Drivers are required to be attentive and yield the right of way to the proper motorist or motorcycle rider. For this reason, the driver turning left will almost always be found at fault in causing the crash. Often this driver will also be speeding, such as to speed through a light or to pass another vehicle—another traffic violation.
There are exceptions to this rule when the motorcycle rider could be considered at least partially at fault in causing the crash. These include the following:
- The motorcyclist is speeding at an excessive speed that gives the other motorist insufficient time to react.
- The motorcyclist is in the wrong lane, such as going straight when he is a left-only turn lane.
- The motorcyclist speeds through a red light when another driver is waiting in the intersection to turn left.
Tips for Avoiding Left-Turn Accidents
Motorcyclists can avoid at least some left-turn accidents by defensive driving. Some safety practices to follow include:
- Anticipate a collision. A motorcycle rider should anticipate an accident every time he enters an intersection and check to see if oncoming traffic is turning left—whether legally or illegally—and react accordingly.
- Slow down. Slowing down at intersections allows riders to react to the unpredictable—which often happens at intersections.
- Be visible. Riders should wear bright colors and always use their headlights to make themselves more visible to other motorists.
- Observe motorists. Watching motorists for cues can help a rider sense whether the driver intends to proceed—even when he doesn’t have the right of way.
Were you or a loved one injured in a left turn accident? Check out our testimonials to see how David Brauns has helped accident victims that have been in the same situation. Then call our firm directly at 404-348-0889 or toll free at 877-401-6689 to schedule a free consultation with David Brauns.