If you’re a fan of motorcycles, you know there’s nothing more exciting than being on the open road with the wind on your face and the breathtaking scenery all around you, but we all know that motorcycles can be dangerous. No matter how safe a rider you are, you have to contend with the car and truck drivers around you, flawed road surfaces, pedestrians, and bad weather.
There’s very little protecting a motorcyclist from the hard surface of the road beneath him, and even with a helmet and protective clothing, you’re more prone to serious injury than anyone else on the road except maybe a pedestrian. When you add bad driving into the mix, you have the recipe for disaster.
Left Hand Turn Danger
When car drivers don’t obey the rules of the road and make illegal turns, speed, change lanes improperly, drive while distracted, swerve, and run stop signs, motorcyclists’ are in serious danger. Improper left hand turns by motorists are a leading cause of motorcycle accidents and injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 53% of “crossing path” crashes involved left-hand turns, and 36%percent of fatal accidents involving motorcycles resulted in a car making a left-hand turn in front of the bike.
The NHTSA also reports that almost 90,000 motorcyclists are injured in crashes every year, and almost 40% of those injuries occur when a motorcyclist collides with a car that is turning left. Those collisions happen when:
- The car turns left in front of a motorcycle in an intersection
- A motorcyclist is in a car’s blind spot and the car turns left into the motorcyclist’s lane
- A motorcyclist is passing a car and that car suddenly turns left
Motorcyclists are most at risk approaching an intersection where a vehicle is making a left turn in front of them, and this scenario is the most common in motorcycle accidents and fatalities. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 53% of crossing-path crashes involve left turns, while only 6% involve right turns—almost ten times as many with left hand turns.
Making a left turn at an intersection is much more dangerous than turning right because drivers turning right do not have to cross the path of any oncoming traffic. During a left turn, however, motorcycle drivers not only have to be wary of oncoming traffic in the opposite lane, they must also check to their left to ensure that someone in their own lane is not trying to pass them on the left.
After an accident, drivers will say that they didn’t even see the motorcycle. They’re telling the truth. Depth perception is a big part of the left hand turn problem with cars and motorcycles because drivers don’t see motorcycles in the same way they see other cars and trucks: a typical commuter may see several thousand cars in a day, but they may see only a handful of motorcycles. Interacting with motorcycles is a very small part of a driver’s experience, but it’s something that deserves drivers’ attention. Also, due to their small size, motorcycles tend to blend into their surroundings, and it is much harder to see and judge their speed when turning in front of them.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident in Southern California, please contact the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Sheridan & Rund, PC to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.