Why Is Making a Left Turn So Deadly in San Francisco?

by Staff | April 4th, 2022

There are few driving situations as complicated as a left turn, especially an unprotected left turn. Drivers need to make sure they have enough time to turn before oncoming traffic arrives, deal with honking cars behind them, be aware of civilians and bikes on crosswalks, and execute a safe left turn.

The complications of a left turn make it one of the most dangerous aspects of driving, especially in heavily congested cities like San Francisco. 40% of fatal traffic accidents occurred when a car took a left-hand turn and struck a pedestrian. While some blame for these accidents can be attributed to intersection design, negligent driving is also a common cause.

If you or a loved one was involved in a traffic accident, you might be due compensation for the injuries or wrongful death. San Francisco car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you recover the financial losses associated with your injuries or a loved one’s death.

What Makes Left Turns Dangerous?

San Francisco is one of the most congested cities in the world, which places considerable stress on the intersections in the city. More cars on the roads mean less time to execute safe left turns, more aggressive driving tendencies, and ultimately more dangerous situations for pedestrians.

The stress caused by these congestion-related factors increases the chance of aggressive driving. Aggressive driving includes speeding, cutting off other vehicles, and cutting corners in left turns.

The design of cars adds to the danger of left turns by blocking the driver’s view of the crosswalk. The A-pillar, which is located on the driver’s side, connects the roof to the vehicle’s hood and holds the windshield in place. While a 90-degree left turn will reposition the crosswalk into the driver’s full view, when a driver cuts the corner, the A-pillar blocks their view of the crosswalk.

How to Safely Turn Left

The first step in executing a safe left turn is being free of distractions. Do not attempt left turns while on the phone or when other preventable distractions are present. The next step is to assess the intersection. Check for the light, oncoming traffic, cyclists approaching from behind, and pedestrians. Keep your wheels pointed forward because if you wait to turn with angled wheels, a rear-end accident will send you into oncoming traffic.

You should only turn when you have enough time to go 5 mph through the intersection. Make a 90-degree turn in the middle of the intersection and slowly drive through the crosswalk to give yourself the time to make adjustments.

Stay Safe as a Pedestrian

Pedestrians are the most at-risk population at left-turn intersections, with elderly pedestrians being even more vulnerable. To keep yourself safe, watch for cars in an intersection planning to turn left, do not cross until you make eye contact with drivers, and wear bright clothing.

While these practices reduce the likelihood of a car hitting you, sometimes a driver’s negligence makes it impossible to avoid an accident and serious injury.

When Is a Driver Liable for a Left Turn Accident?

In California, all drivers are responsible for exercising a reasonable amount of care to avoid injuring others. This means that drivers must follow the road laws and drive safely and responsibly.

California law states that vehicles turning left yield to oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Failing to do so, especially by aggressively cutting the left turn corner, is a breach of the driver’s responsibility to others. Negligent drivers are liable for the injuries they cause.

What to Do if a Driver Turning Left injures You

If you sustain injuries or a loved one suffers a wrongful death due to a driver’s negligence, you likely have grounds for a lawsuit. When possible, take photos of the accident scene and retain all documentation proving your medical expenses, doctor’s appointments, and time off work while recovering.

When a loved one is wrongfully killed, recovering damages can help cover the cost of burial and funeral expenses while providing financial support during a challenging time.

Contact an attorney in California to discuss your legal options for pursuing compensation. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we can help you build a case against the negligent party and support you through the process of filing your claim. Call us today to request a free, no-obligation consultation.