There are over 374,000 car accidents each year in Florida with 160,000 resulting in serious injury. That’s 1,026 crashes every day. 

We know that certain types of driving are more likely to result in a crash, like speeding, drunk or impaired driving, and distracted driving. But what about left hand turns? Are they dangerous? Are they the cause of a lot of accidents?

It is not always a simple task to identify who is at fault for a car accident. While some collisions are caused by mistakes of all parties involved, many are caused because of the mistake of a single party. Deciding who is at fault for accidents involving turns can be confusing. However, examining traffic laws will help make it clear which party is at fault for turn accidents.

Under Florida law, left turn accident fault usually falls on the driver of the car turning left. Below, we discuss the circumstances that might affect fault in an accident.

According to the Washington Post, 53% of crossing-path crashes involve left hand turns while just 5.7% involve right turns. That’s ten times the number of crashes from that maneuver, and left hand turns are three times more likely to cause  a fatal pedestrian accident.

Turning Left

Accidents Involving Left-Hand Turns

For accidents where one car was attempting a left turn, the turning car is usually at fault. This fault is assigned to the turning driver because they are responsible for yielding to oncoming traffic. There are exceptions to this fault, including instances where a driver runs a red light and collides with the car waiting to turn left.

When a driver is turning left there is a need to view, perceive and process more information in the brain. 

In addition to watching down the road, the driver must determine what oncoming traffic is approaching, the closing speed, the availability to get the car across all lanes of traffic and into the perpendicular lane to the left, and avoid pedestrians, objects and cars, all while maintaining a green light (if controlled by a traffic control device). 

The driver also has to be able to perceive pedestrians that may be crossing the road (generally having the right-of-way) as well as bicyclists. This makes left-hand turns much more dangerous.

Accidents Involving Right-Hand Turns

As with left-hand turns, vehicles attempting a right turn during an accident are typically placed at fault. While it is legal to turn right during a red light, drivers are required to yield to oncoming traffic and safely merge with it. Many drivers have the bad habit of rolling through right turns—an action that increases their fault and makes an accident more likely to occur. Sometimes, drivers pull too far into an intersection to check if it is safe to complete a right turn—this is also a common source of accidents. This type of accident is most easily avoided by waiting for a light to turn green if visibility is not optimal.

Left Hand Turn Accidents – WHO IS AT FAULT?

The law requires that the driver wanting to make a left-hand turn must wait until they can safely cross and do so without creating a danger or obstruction.

Sometimes drivers make a left and there is traffic in the lane they are entering and they remain blocking the original oncoming lanes.

It is generally assumed that the driver who turns left against oncoming traffic is at fault in a crash. That’s because the car traveling in a straight direction generally has the right of way, as does a vehicle turning right. Florida’s law on left turns reads as follows:

Fla Statute 316.122 – Vehicle turning left.—The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, or vehicles lawfully passing on the left of the turning vehicle, which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.

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