Could left-hand turns become a thing of the past?

by | Apr 11, 2014 | Motorcycle Accidents

Is driving a right, or is it a privilege? While many Americans might suggest that it’s the former, it is actually the latter. Driver’s licenses are granted by the government, and can be revoked for moving violations or more serious crimes. Such actions are taken with public safety in mind. In the same vein, governments might decide to drastically change the rules of the road in order to improve safety — and, hopefully, lower the accident rate.

One of the most dangerous maneuvers that a driver can perform is a left turn. Particularly on a busy road, a left turn can be quite hazardous. Figures compiled by the federal government have shown that left turns lead to almost 10 times more accidents than right-hand turns do. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that more than one-third of fatal motorcycle accidents stem from vehicles making left-hand turns in front of bikes.

So why not ban most left-hand turns? The idea might sound radical, but it has some adherents. Many traffic engineers are not fond of left-hand turns because of the extra space turn lanes require on roads, and the extra time added to traffic signal cycles. Additionally, UPS has its drivers forgo left-hand turns most of the time; the company says it saves significantly in fuel costs.

In any case, such talk is useful as a reminder to drivers to be extra careful when it comes to turning left — especially concerning motorcycles. Riders do their best to be seen, but drivers preoccupied with the details of making a left-hand turn can easily overlook someone coming toward them on a motorcycle.

Source: The Washington Post, “The case for almost never turning left while driving,” Matt McFarland, April 9, 2014

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