You probably don’t even give it a lot of thought – but left-hand turns are actually a lot more problematic than most people realize.
In fact, left turns have been called “unsafe and wasteful” by many, and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) says that they’re “critical pre-crash events” in 22.2% of wrecks. By comparison, right-hand turns are only critical events in 1.2% of crashes.
Why are left turns a safety issue?
Making a left-hand turn typically involves crossing the path of oncoming vehicles, increasing the likelihood of a collision, especially if one or more drivers fail to yield the right of way. When turning left, your vision of oncoming traffic may also be obstructed, making it harder to judge the speed and distance of approaching vehicles.
Opting for right-hand turns and alternative routes that avoid left-hand turns can lead to a smoother and more continuous flow of traffic. This reduces your need for frequent acceleration and deceleration, saving fuel and reducing wear and tear on your vehicle – and reducing the likelihood that a distracted driver will end up hitting you from behind.
Finally, pedestrians are more likely to cross the street from the right side of the road. so left-hand turns can put you closer to them, leading to unexpected and dangerous situations.
How do left turns affect the environment?
Left-hand turns can also have a negative environmental impact, particularly in urban settings. Idling while waiting to make a left-hand turn at a busy intersection results in unnecessary fuel consumption and increased fuel emissions, contributing to air pollution and climate change. Avoiding left-hand turns can also improve your fuel efficiency and save you money in the long run:
How do you avoid left-hand turns?
To reduce your reliance on left-hand turns, use navigation apps to plan routes with fewer left-hand turns and less traffic congestion. It’s often safer, quicker and less costly to make three rights than one left.
No matter how safe you try to be, accidents will still happen. If you’re injured in a wreck, learning more about your legal options can help.