A lot of motorist accidents happen when the driver is making a left-hand turn across oncoming traffic, especially at intersections. These turns require the driver to be aware of not only the vehicles traveling in the opposite direction but also bicycles and pedestrians that are crossing the street as well. With a lot of roadway activity, if the driver is distracted, misjudges the turn or just not paying attention, any turn can result in severe injuries to oncoming motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Prevalence of Left-Turn Accidents
According to a study performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on auto accidents, left-hand turns accounted for the highest number of crashes in the study, making up 22% of the accidents. The majority, 96.1%, of these crashes were attributed to driver error, either categorized as recognition or decision errors.
- Most recognition errors (44%) involved “inadequate surveillance.” This means that drivers did not make sure it was safe to turn by checking for other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles.
- Decision errors were closely divided between misjudging the other person’s actions, turning with an obstructed view and performing an illegal maneuver.
When compared to other types of accidents, which generally involve factors such as: traveling too fast, driving aggressively or performance errors, left-hand turns were almost always due to the driver’s judgment.
Illinois State Law Relating to Turning Vehicles
According to Illinois state law, drivers turning left must give the right-of-way to vehicles that are traveling the opposite direction. The law states:
(625 ILCS 5/11-902) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-902)
Sec. 11-902. Vehicle turning left.
The driver 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 so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but said driver, having so yielded may proceed at such time as a safe interval occurs.
(Source: P.A. 76-1586.)
Bicyclists and Pedestrians at Risk for Getting Struck by Turning Vehicles
Specific hazards in intersection turn accidents are those that involve bicycles sharing the road. While the driver who is turning left may be aware of the other vehicles they must yield to, often times they do not account for the bicyclist they must yield to as well. In Chicago, the city municipal code states:
(e) Right-of-way to a bicycle on left turn. The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a bicycle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(f) Turning right in front of a bicycle. When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.
(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1)
Bicycles and pedestrians can be more difficult for drivers to spot. These accident victims are more vulnerable to injury, making it important for drivers to take the time to see them approaching the intersection before making that turn.
Don’t Let A Driver Get Away With Making A Careless Left-Handed Turn In Front Of You
If you are the victim of a left-hand turn accident, whether you were driving, walking or riding a bike, you may need legal representation to ensure you are financially compensated for your injuries. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are knowledgeable in both state and local personal injury tort laws that pertain to these accidents and will fight to make sure you receive the best possible financial award. We invite you to contact one of our Chicago car accident attorneys from our team for a free consultation to discuss your accident.