Be aware during your left turn

April 17, 2017, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Be aware during your left turn.

The recent accident statistics in the Region of Waterloo showed some positive developments in several areas.  There was a decline in the number of vehicle collisions and a decline in the number of cyclist collisions.  Another positive development is the decrease in fatalities in the Region.  There was however an increase in the number of pedestrian collisions.  An increase in the number of people walking was cited as one cause.  Speed is often cited as a contributing cause for many collisions.  Another factor that is cited is distraction.  The recent police blitz to enforce the distractions laws show that we have a long way to go in terms of getting the safety message out there to drivers.   Distraction is an issue that can affect both drivers and pedestrians.  It is important that all parties pay attention to their surroundings and those around them to maximize safety.

I would like to raise one factor that certainly plays a role in many accidents that I hear about – the left turn.  Drivers are not as attentive to their surroundings as they should be when making a left turn.  Consider that you are at an intersection waiting to make a left turn. You are watching oncoming traffic to determine when it would be safe to make that turn.  Think about those times when you are into that left  turn but failed to consider whether any pedestrians or cyclists might be crossing in the crosswalk you are about to drive through.  On occasion we are accelerating quickly to complete the left turn before oncoming traffic becomes a factor, yet we fail to ensure that there were no pedestrians or cyclists in our path before starting your turn.

One obscure law dealing with Fault Determination Rules in Ontario provides that where Driver A is making a left turn into a driveway or private roadway, and strikes Driver B who was attempting to overtake Driver A from behind, then Driver A is 50% at fault for the accident.  Again, when making a left-hand turn one needs to be aware of activity all around your vehicle – in this case your blind spot.  A problem can arise where one is attempting to make a left turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic.  A driver in the centre oncoming lane stops to waive you through and you proceed to make the turn.  However the vehicle in the oncoming curb lane is not aware that you are being waived through and a collision occurs.  You need to be very cautious when starting that turn.  You will be at fault for an improper turn.    

For motorcyclists, many accidents occur when drivers make a left-hand turn into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist.  The primary issue is the failure of the driver to observe the motorcyclist in the oncoming lane.  The motorcycle is a smaller vehicle, with less lighting, and if the vehicle driver is not attentive then they will not observe the oncoming motorcycle and feel that it is safe to make the turn.

When making a left turn be patient, check all your surroundings for hazards that might appear in the path of your turn, including your blind spot, before you start that turn.  I guess one benefit of roundabouts is that they take the left hand turn out of the equation.

Posted under Bicycle Accidents, Car Accidents, Distracted Drivers, Motorcycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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