Most people don’t like making left turns, especially when there is a lot of oncoming traffic and impatient drivers are lined up behind honking their horns. Sometimes a break in the oncoming traffic is not quite as long as it looks. Sometimes the speed of oncoming cars is underestimated. In intersections, there is always the chance of an oncoming car driving through a red light and t-boning the driver turning left. Many people are aware of the fact that UPS drivers avoid left turns 90% of the time, partly to save fuel and delays, but also for safety considerations. Let’s face it: left turns are risky.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 61% of all intersection crashes involve left hand turns.
- The NHTSA also reports that 53.1% of crossing path crashes involve left turns, as opposed to 5.7 % involving right turns.
- Kentucky Traffic Safety Data Services (KTSDS) reported that there were 10,466 FAILURE TO YIELD accidents in 2020.
- The Kentucky State Police also reported that there were 1,546 accidents in 2020 caused by TURNING IMPROPERLY.
- Left hand turns often involve crossing lanes of traffic. It is easy to misjudge the speed of oncoming vehicles.
- Drivers often have only a split second to make the decision to turn left. This moment is called “driver workload.”
- The parts of the car that support the roof, hold the airbags in place, and hold the windshield in place are called A pillars. They are larger than they used to be in the past because of (ironically) safety features, and they can obstruct the driver’s view, especially of pedestrians.
- Distracted driving is particularly dangerous for drivers making left turns. A recent study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience involving simulated driving exercises and MRIs showed that the entire brain is involved in making a left turn decision because it is such a complicated endeavor. When drivers were distracted by being asked questions at the same time, they lost effectiveness in their visual cortex, which processes visual information.
- Left turn crashes tend to be t-bone, or side impact, accidents where one car hits another car directly on the side.
- Not all cars are equipped with side airbags, and the level of protection is less in a t-bone accident than in a front or rear-end collision.
- November 20, 2021: Two people died in Jefferson County when an SUV driver attempted a left turn and was struck by a passenger vehicle.
- November 18, 2021: A driver died and four people were injured after the driver attempted to make a left turn from a convenience store onto Ring Road in Elizabethtown and was struck by an SUV.
- November 18, 2021: A garbage truck turning left onto Winchester Road in Lexington struck and injured a pedestrian.
- November 19, 2021: An SUV struck another vehicle and flipped after turning left onto Rice Road in Lexington in front of the second vehicle.
- November 4, 2021: A motorcyclist was fatally injured when his vehicle struck the side of a pickup truck that was turning left onto U.S. 127 in Liberty.
Kentucky Statute 189.330 states that:
- (1) When two (2) vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different roadways at approximately the same time, the operator of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
- The operator of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
- (6)(b) Left turns – the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle. Whenever practicable, the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme right-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as such vehicle on the roadway being entered.
- (9)The operator 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 which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.
- (10) The operator of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.
- (11) On highways with a center lane restricted for left turns off the highway by vehicles proceeding in both directions: (a) A left turn shall not be made from any other lane, and (b) A vehicle shall not be driven in a center lane as described in this subsection except when preparing for or making a left turn off the highway or merging onto the highway after making a left turn from a side road or other entrance.
It all boils down to who has the right of way. If you make a left turn, you are responsible for yielding the right of way to any oncoming traffic. This includes bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
If you have the right of way at an intersection (for instance, with a green arrow), the driver of the other car may be at fault in an accident if a red light or stop sign is ignored or if that driver was speeding, under the influence, or driving unsafely.
If you have been involved in a left turn accident in Kentucky, seek the advice of experienced attorneys, like those at McCoy & Sparks to help you navigate insurance claims so that you can be fairly compensated.
Kentucky is a no-fault state as it relates to the first $10,000 of medical bills and lost wages. This means that those items are paid by the insurance attached to the car that you are riding in. All other claims depend upon a finding a fault against another person.
The Kentucky statute of limitations for most injuries is one year, but there are many exceptions (for more information, please refer to our article on this). Motor vehicle accidents make up the majority of personal injury claims and as such have their own specific statuteknown as the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. This statute allows for a two-year timeline that begins two years from the date of the last personal injury protection (PIP) payment, or two years from the injury date if no PIP payments are made.