Left turns can be very dangerous. It seems that each state has it’s own laws when it comes to making left turns, but there are some basic rules that apply across the board or rather at an intersection.
“Left turns cause many collisions,” said Phoenix car accident Attorney Ken Gerber. “Who has the right of way will turn many times on the type of traffic control whether it’s a 4-way stop, 2-way stop or traffic light controlled.”
Some states, including Arizona, prohibit entering the right lane when making a left turn. You’re supposed to turn into the left lane or rather the lane closest.
When making a left-hand turn, you can only enter the intersection only when the light or arrow is green. Even with a green arrow or light, you should always check for pedestrians in the crosswalk in front of you and to the left. Even though the sign might say “Do not walk” it doesn’t always mean pedestrians pay attention.
Who has the right of way?
Remember, the vehicle going straight has the right of way. “The left turning vehicle must yield to oncoming traffic,” said Gerber. “Of course, if the straight going vehicle has a stop sign, the laws regarding 4 way stops come into play, meaning first to the intersection has the right of way.”
Many left turn crashes happen at intersections controlled by a traffic light. “The scenario is usually the following: vehicle #1 is waiting to make a left turn but traffic is too heavy,” explains Gerber. “As the light turns yellow, or even when it turns red, vehicle #1 is in the middle of the intersection and must clear the intersection for other traffic. As vehicle #1 moves into its turn, vehicle #2 coming from the opposite direction decides to go through the yellow (or even red) light and hits vehicle #1.”
Unless there’s a camera at the intersection, police must depend on witnesses about the color of the light to determine which driver’s at fault.
As a Phoenix car accident attorney, Ken puts it another way. “Drivers must stop on red and use caution on yellow, but left turning vehicles must yield to through vehicles. Generally, there will be liability on both drivers. The best answer is to stop at reds and don’t make left turns until you are sure that all oncoming vehicles have stopped.”
If you’re a victim of left turn accident and need an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney, please call us for a free consultation.