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3 Reasons Why Left-Turning Vehicles Are So Dangerous to Motorcyclists

Riding a motorcycle offers a sense of freedom and exhilaration that few other modes of transportation can match. However, it also comes with its unique set of challenges and risks, especially when sharing the road with larger vehicles like cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs.

Left-turning vehicles in particular pose a significant danger to motorcyclists. In fact, a 2023 study published in the National Library of Medicine says that “crashes in which another vehicle turned left in front of an oncoming motorcycle were, by far, the most frequent type of fatal two-vehicle motorcycle crash.”

Understanding why left-turning vehicles are so dangerous to motorcyclists–and how to avoid these types of crashes—is key for staying safe if you’re a rider. 

Limited Visibility

One of the most critical factors contributing to the danger of left-turning vehicles for motorcyclists is limited visibility. Motorcycles are smaller and narrower than cars and trucks, making them less noticeable on the road—especially when they’re a good distance away from drivers. This limited visibility can lead to dangerous situations when a driver is preparing to make a left turn at an intersection or into a driveway.

When a driver is not fully aware of their surroundings or fails to scan the road ahead before turning, they may not see an approaching motorcycle until it’s too late. This can result in the driver making a left turn directly into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist, causing a devastating collision.

To mitigate this risk, motorcyclists should always ride defensively and assume that they may not be seen by other drivers. Wearing bright, reflective gear and using headlights not only at night but also during the day can improve visibility.

Misjudgment of Speed

Another significant factor contributing to left-turn accidents involving motorcycles is the misjudgment of the motorcycle’s speed. Many drivers in cars, trucks, and SUVs underestimate how fast a motorcycle is approaching, leading them to make a left turn in front of it while thinking they have enough time to complete the turn safely.

This misjudgment can occur for several reasons. First, motorcycles have a smaller profile and may not appear to be traveling as fast as they actually are, leaving drivers to think they have more time to complete their turn than they actually do. Second, motorcycles can accelerate and decelerate rapidly, catching drivers off guard, especially when they suddenly accelerate. Finally, drivers may not be accustomed to sharing the road with motorcycles, leading to a lack of understanding of their capabilities and speed.

To address this issue, motorcyclists should always obey speed limits and accelerate and decelerate smoothly and predictably. Additionally, riders should be vigilant when approaching intersections and be prepared to take evasive action if a left-turning vehicle fails to yield the right of way.

Failure to Yield Right of Way

Another common cause of left-turn accidents involving motorcycles is the failure of left-turning drivers to yield the right of way. When a vehicle intends to make a left turn, it must yield to oncoming traffic, including motorcycles. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to recognize or disregard this fundamental rule of the road.

In some cases, drivers may misjudge the distance and speed of an approaching motorcycle, believing they have enough time to complete their left turn safely. In others, they may be distracted, intoxicated, or simply not paying attention to the road.

Motorcyclists can reduce the risk of falling victim to a left-turn accident by being prepared to take evasive action. Defensive riding techniques include using hand signals to communicate intentions and maintaining a heightened state of awareness of all the other vehicles nearby. These can help motorcyclists respond quickly to potential dangers on the road, including left-turning vehicles.

Contact Our Oklahoma Motorcycle Accident Lawyers After a Left-Turn Accident

Drivers of cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles are almost always at fault in crashes where they turn in front of motorcyclists. Whether they are turning at intersections, into driveways, or through cut-outs in medians, drivers are supposed to wait until traffic is clear before pulling out into the road. Unfortunately, too many drivers are either too inexperienced, too distracted, or too impatient to wait until it’s truly safe to turn—and that can lead to serious and even fatal injuries for the riders they collide with.

If you or someone you love was struck by a left-turning vehicle, you may be eligible for significant compensation. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma motorcycle accident attorneys want to help you get every penny you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us anytime for a free case review. We’re here to help.