Left-Turn Collisions: A Leading Cause Of Serious Injuries

Oct 6, 2021 | Car Accidents, Driving Safety

It’s a common maneuver that drivers perform every day. But the statistics indicate that turning left across oncoming traffic is a major cause of serious and even deadly collisions — especially when it’s done without taking time to properly assess traffic conditions.

According to data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, close to 40 percent of all traffic accidents happen at intersections, and more than 60 percent of intersection accidents involve left-turn collisions. That means that, if you are unfortunate enough to be in a car crash, the chances of that crash stemming from someone making a left turn are better than one in five. The figures are even worse for motorcyclists; an amazing 42 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents that involve another vehicle occur as a result of a driver turning left into the path of a motorcycle.


The vast majority of these collisions are due to driver error and are preventable. But it all comes down to taking care to execute a left turn correctly — something that impatient drivers often fail to do.

NHTSA studies indicate that, in a small percentage of cases, left-turn crashes may be due to mechanical problems or environmental factors, such as bad weather or an obstructed view. But most of the time different forms of driver error are responsible, including:

  • Recognition errors—driver was distracted, didn’t check traffic in all directions, failed to see motorcycle, etc
  • Decision errors—driver was speeding, misjudged speed of approaching vehicles,  made erroneous assumptions about how other drivers would act, etc
  • Performance errors—driver overcompensated or failed to act in response to changing traffic conditions.


Most of the time common sense, as well as the prevailing traffic laws, would indicate that the driver making the left turn is at fault for failing to yield the right of way. But there are exceptions. Perhaps the other driver sped through a red light, was drunk or distracted, or otherwise violated traffic laws; in that event, the burden would be on the turning driver to establish that the other driver was negligent.

Many of the driving mistakes that lead to left-turn collisions can be avoided by exercising caution and patience. Signal the left turn well in advance.  Make sure you have an unobstructed view of traffic coming from all directions and the traffic light is on your side. Take into account the speed of other motorists before attempting to cross their path. Obey all traffic laws. And if the turn seems too dangerous, given the speed and volume of opposing traffic, consider selecting another intersection for that turn.


If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or financial loss as a result of a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. Over the past 30 years, Franklin D. Azar & Associates has represented victims in a wide array of complicated and serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, call the attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 720-372-2824 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.