Dear Reader,

Today I’d like to bring a road hazard to your attention that you may not be aware of…making a left-hand turn.  That’s right, putting on your blinker and turning left at an intersection is one of the most dangerous moves you can make on a city road.  As a personal Injury attorney, I know this.  I’ve been involved in hundreds of auto collision cases where the driver was struck while turning left at an intersection.

For this reason, I was pleased when I came across an article on discussing the new left lane expansion Fairfax recently added to a particularly dangerous intersection.   (See link at the bottom of this blog for the full story.) According to the article, a second left turn lane has recently been put in place for the intersection of Chain Bridge Road and Eaton Place.

I know drivers in the area must be pleased, this intersection had developed a notorious reputation for auto collisions over the past couple of years.  Even better news, the city said this new left turn lane is part of a bigger package of planning improvements they expect to be finished with in the next 18 months.

This is great for Fairfax, but what about all the other intersections with poorly regulated left turn lanes?   Well folks, that’s where you come in and it starts with knowing why turning left can be so potentially dangerous.

Here are the facts:

  1. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 22% of all intersection-related crashes involve left turns.
  2. One of the main risks when turning left is being struck by an oncoming vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that crashes involving left turns account for a significant number of fatalities at intersections.
  3. Misjudging the speed of oncoming vehicles is a common factor contributing to left-turn accidents. A study published in the Journal of Safety Research found that drivers often have difficulty accurately estimating the speed of approaching vehicles, leading to critical errors when attempting left turns.

So, what’s the answer?

No, it’s not turning right three times.

The answer is simple.  If you want to avoid an auto collision while turning left, be vigilant. Stay focused and only proceed with your turn if you are double-dog certain that you have the right of way, and the coast is completely clear.

Some additional safe left-turn tips:

  1. Always yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before making a left turn. Observe the intersection carefully, scan for oncoming vehicles, and ensure there is a sufficient gap to complete the turn safely.
  2. Position your vehicle correctly in the intersection while waiting to make a left turn. Keep your wheels straight until it is safe to turn. This helps prevent your vehicle from being pushed into opposing traffic if rear-ended.
  3. Always use your turn signals. This makes your intention to turn left clear to other drivers. Signaling early allows them to anticipate your actions and adjust their driving accordingly.
  4. Take time to assess the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. Be cautious of vehicles in adjacent lanes that may be turning or changing lanes.
  5. Keep an eye out for pedestrians crossing the intersection or using crosswalks. Give them the right of way and plenty of time to cross the road safely.
  6. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted, especially when making a left turn. Avoid using electronic devices, eating, or engaging in other activities that may divert your attention from the road.

Finally, if you or someone you love is ever involved in an auto collision, please call my office immediately at 703-761-4343 or 301-949-1515.

Until next time,

Please be safe, and NEVER text while driving!

Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow

City of Fairfax expands left turn lane at busy intersection to avoid crashes

By Tadiwos Abedje

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