Left-turn accidents: Common and deadly for motorcyclists

Now that spring is here and the weather is getting nicer, roads in and around Atlanta are going to see an increase in motorcycle traffic. Those who ride understand the feeling of freedom and exhilaration that comes with zipping along on two wheels. But too few people – especially drivers of larger vehicles – understand the level of danger that motorcyclists face each time they take to the roads and highways.

For a number of reasons, motorcycling is inherently more dangerous and deadly than driving a car. First, there is the weight and size differential between motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles. Next, motorcyclists have no external protection in the event of a crash. Finally, there is the fact that drivers too often fail to notice or keep a lookout for motorcyclists.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2016 data, death rates among motorcyclists were 28 times higher than those among other drivers, per vehicle mile traveled. And one of the most common and deadly crash scenarios is the left-turn accident, accounting for 43 percent of fatal crashes involving two vehicles.

A left-turn accident occurs when one driver attempts to turn left across oncoming traffic. It is common on two-lane highways. The turning driver is responsible for ensuring that there is no oncoming cross traffic before making the turn. But because of the smaller size of motorcycles, many drivers either fail to see them coming or misjudge how far away they are and how fast they are traveling. The larger vehicle turns left, and the motorcyclist has no time to slow down or swerve out of the way. The result is a broadside crash that is likely to be fatal to the motorcyclist.

Like most crashes, motorcycle accidents are usually avoidable if drivers pay attention to their surroundings and behave courteously to all other travelers, including motorcyclists. If you drive a car or truck, please take the bumper-sticker slogan “start seeing motorcycles” to heart. And if you are motorcyclist who has been seriously injured due to the negligence of another driver, please consider speaking to a personal injury attorney about your rights and legal options.

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