Why Are Left-Hand Turns Dangerous?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related, most of which result from making a left turn. In addition, a study by New York City transportation planners found that left turns were three times as likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.

But why are left-hand turns so dangerous?

Left-hand turns are dangerous because of the many factors a driver must consider before making the turn. The driver assesses many variables, and the slightest distraction or miscalculation can be deadly.

There are two general types of left-hand turns:

  • Protected left-hand turns
  • Unprotected left-hand turns

Protected left-hand turns are less dangerous because the driver typically has the protection of a green arrow. This signal stops traffic and allows the driver to make the turn safely. At the same time, parallel pedestrian signals help eliminate pedestrian fatalities.

Unprotected left-hand turns, however, are more dangerous because:

  •  There is no signal protecting the driver as they turn
  • The vehicle making the turn is crossing the opposite lane and disrupting the flow of traffic
  • The driver is watching for pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk
  • The driver is gauging the speed and distance of oncoming cars

In addition to your driving, a left-hand turn requires that you be vigilant of the movement of oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.

Left-Hand Turn Laws in Arkansas

In Arkansas, 27-51-502 addresses left turns at intersections throughout the state.

According to this law, “The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are within the intersection or so close to it as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

Once you’ve yielded and are given a green signal, you are allowed to make the left turn after all other vehicles have cleared the intersection.

Who is at Fault in a Left Turn Collision?

Sadly, many left-hand turn accidents are caused by drivers making illegal left-hand turns.

In almost every case, the driver making a left-hand turn will be blamed for the accident. That’s because the driver making a left-hand turn only has the right-of-way when proceeding on a left-turn green arrow. If they’re making a left turn on a green arrow, they would not be liable for the accident.

All other left hand turn drivers must wait for the intersection to be clear before proceeding through it. This includes waiting for pedestrians and cyclists to safely cross–even if there is no crosswalk.

If a driver is making a left-hand turn at an intersection without a light, they must use the same caution. Oncoming traffic always has the right of way, and other drivers are not required to slow down or stop to let the left-hand turn driver pass. If a “no left-turn sign” is present, drivers must not make left turns at that intersection even when it is clear of traffic.

Drivers making an unprotected left turn would be liable for an accident and all injuries and damages caused by that accident.

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When a Left Turn Driver is NOT at Fault

As we noted above, Arkansas drivers making a protected left turn are typically not at fault when an accident occurs. As long as they obeyed the rules of the road at the time and turned on a green arrow, the other driver would bear liability for the accident.

In some situations, however, a driver making an unprotected left-hand turn would not be entirely responsible for the accident. Some of those include:

Because there are always exceptions, it is important to speak to an experienced Arkansas car accident attorney, even if you think the accident was your fault. Your attorney can also examine the evidence and determine if the other driver is partly to blame.

When Do Multiple Parties Share Fault?

In some cases, the oncoming driver may be liable for the accident or a portion of the accident. If they’re deemed partially at fault, they may owe some compensation for the crash and the injuries suffered. After all, Arkansas is a modified comparative fault state.

For example: if the oncoming driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but you turned left into them, you may be deemed 30% responsible for the accident, while the other driver may be deemed 70% liable. If the damages in the case are $100,000, you will receive 70% of the total award.

It is important to know that when the fault is shared by multiple parties, proving liability gets complicated. Insurance companies will push aggressively to pin some or all the blame on you. It is your attorney’s job to go back and build a case to secure maximum compensation. Without a lawyer on your side, you may not get the money you need to recover fully. Even worse, you may find yourself paying damages in an accident you didn’t cause.

Proving Fault

Proving fault in a left-hand turn accident in Arkansas can be difficult. Without a proper investigation, you may be assigned a fault mistakenly. As such, police reports can be invaluable after a crash. The officer on the scene will speak to eyewitnesses and review the damage to determine who is to blame. This can go a long way towards helping you and your attorney collect the money you need from the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company.

Unfortunately, sometimes these police reports are not always accurate. If you believe that you have been assigned blame for an accident you did not cause, it is important to speak to an experienced Arkansas car accident lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will need to thoroughly investigate the accident to build a case establishing clear liability.

This may include:

  • Taking photos of the accident scene
  • Taking pictures of car damage
  • Speaking to eyewitnesses
  • Reviewing any black box data
  • Reviewing cell phone records
  • Observing intersection camera video
  • Using accident recreation specialists

It is important to know that collecting evidence and building a case must occur quickly. If you are injured, the easiest and best way to do this is to contact an experienced and skilled Arkansas car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can examine your accident to determine who was at fault. An experienced attorney knows how to quickly collect evidence and build a case to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.

Without an experienced Arkansas car accident law firm on your side, you may be left paying for an accident that wasn’t your fault!

How to Properly Make a Left Turn

In Arkansas, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you make a safe left turn. Even if you need to make an unprotected left turn, following these steps can ensure that you do so safely and efficiently.


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Left Turn Accidents Require the Right Lawyer

What you do after an accident will significantly impact your ability to collect the money you need. Without a lawyer on your side, you may be stuck paying for the accident and for injuries you did not cause.

An experienced and skilled car accident attorney can help you establish liability and build a case to obtain maximum compensation. Some studies have shown that accident victims with legal representation can recover up to 300% more compensation than those without a lawyer. Without a lawyer, you are at the mercy of insurance adjusters, who could deny your insurance claim without a proper and thorough investigation into the causes of the accident itself.

With nine offices in Arkansas and Tennessee – Little Rock, Little Rock-Corporate Hill, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Memphis– our personal injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help.

Connect with us today for a free case evaluation.

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