Left-turn collisions are considered one of the greatest threats to motorcycle riders. Bikers frequently sustain significant bodily damage. In many cases, a motorcyclist will suffer catastrophic or life-threatening injuries.
A left-turn collision involves a car or truck turning left and failing to recognize oncoming motorcycles. In most cases, a motor vehicle collides with a biker going through the intersection:
When an intersection stoplight does not have a left turn light or arrow, cars and trucks can only turn when there are no oncoming vehicles. When traffic is heavy, motorists can wait a long time to make a left turn.
Most drivers ease out into the intersection and wait for the light to turn yellow, taking advantage of cars slowing to a stop and quickly turn left. Cars and trucks can hit motorcyclists coming from the other direction if they go through the yellow light at the same time.
Intersections and four-way-stop stops are full of hazards. Motorists must be alert to changing lights, road signs, and who has the right of way. At the same time, drivers must watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders.
Motorcycles are notoriously difficult to see on the road, especially at intersections. When a car is waiting to turn left, a right-turning motorcycle on the opposing side can be very challenging to spot. Oklahoma’s road safety initiatives and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) Share the Road campaign places the responsibility on automobile drivers to actively look for motorcycle riders.
Motorists anxiously waiting to turn left can easily be distracted by a stoplight. Impatient drivers will stare at the traffic light until it changes and immediately turn left. When motorists fail to notice a motorcycle rider turning right at the opposite end of the intersection, they can collide in a serious car crash.
Another type of left-turn collision can happen when a motorist fails to check their blind spots before turning left. Motorcycles are small, rarely eye-catching, and can easily be overlooked in a blind spot.
When car or truck drivers fail to check their blind spots, they may turn into a biker’s lane or directly into the motorcycle rider themselves. This scenario is common when motorcycles attempt to pass a motor vehicle, and the car or truck suddenly turns left.
Knowing who has the right of way is critical at any intersection. Traffic signals make the right of way very clear in most scenarios. However, situations involving turning left with a flashing yellow arrow can leave motorists uncertain.
Three and four-way stops can be confusing at times, especially when multiple vehicles seemingly pull up at once. Regardless of the right of way, some motorists try to be considerate and wave others through a stop or yield sign. The best way to ensure the safety of all motorists is to follow the proper right of way laws:
Most automobile drivers know to yield to traffic when entering a street. In addition, motorists must:
School children have been known to dart from behind or in front of buses. All motorists must stop until the bus resumes its route.
While drivers are familiar with the standard three lights, there are other signals that some motorists misinterpret. Left-turn arrow lights seem basic:
However, whether the left-turning vehicle has the right of way with an arrow depends on the circumstances. According to Oklahoma Law Enforcement, the following two scenarios will impact who has the right of way during a flashing yellow left-turn signal:
If a left-turning motorist hits a right-turning motorcyclist on a flashing yellow arrow, they would be considered responsible for the left-turn collision.
When a three-way or four-way intersection has a stop or yield sign, there are a few scenarios that will affect who has the right of way:
A significant number of left-turn collisions can be avoided if motorists familiarize themselves with the proper right of way laws.
Left-turn collisions cause a significant number of motorcycle injuries. According to the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated 84,000 motorcyclists suffered serious or critical injuries in the last reporting year. In addition, more than 5,000 bikers have been killed on US roads, representing 14% of all traffic fatalities.
A 30-year study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) researched the causes of fatal motorcycle accidents involving passenger cars. The study found:
Motorcyclists are disproportionately hurt in traffic collisions. Over the 30-year study:
Injuries suffered by motorcyclists are so severe that several cities have considered creating no-left-turn road medians.
Left-turn collisions are particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. Most involve a passenger vehicle striking a motorcycle and throwing the rider off and into the road.
The most common serious injuries sustained in left-turn collisions:
Most fatal motorcycle injuries consist of blunt or penetrating trauma. Damage to the chest accounts for 80% of motorcycle rider fatal injuries.
Intersections are hazardous for motorcycle riders and motorists alike. The reasons why left-hand turns are so dangerous include:
When a motorist fails to check their considerable blind spot or proceed through an intersection cautiously, their negligent actions can cause deadly motorcycle accidents.
The most common causes of left-turn collisions in Oklahoma are driver errors:
There will always be a degree of negligent driving from motorists. Despite the law and serious consequences, some drivers will take left turns too fast and fail to look for motorcycles.
However, bikers can lower the chances of being struck by left-turning cars and trucks by following some helpful tips:
Riding a motorcycle takes exceptional skill. Even the best bikers in the world can still be injured in a left-turn collision when motorists act negligently. At Graves McLain, our motorcycle accident attorneys are here to assist with personal injury claims. Call (918) 359-6600 to schedule a free consultation and speak with a left-turn collision lawyer today.
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