Why Is Turning Left So Dangerous?

Turning left might seem like a simple maneuver, but it’s surprisingly one of the most dangerous actions on the road. Whether it’s a busy intersection or a quiet street, turning left poses significant risks for both drivers and pedestrians. If you have been injured in a left-turn crash, it is important to speak with a Virginia Beach car accident attorney to understand your legal options.

One of the primary reasons turning left is so dangerous is the inherent nature of the maneuver itself. Unlike turning right, where drivers can often take advantage of clear visibility and immediate access to the lane they’re merging into, turning left requires crossing oncoming traffic. This means drivers must accurately gauge the speed and distance of approaching vehicles, a task that becomes increasingly challenging in high-traffic areas or adverse weather conditions.

Human factors also play a significant role in the danger of left turns. Research has shown that drivers tend to underestimate the speed of oncoming vehicles, leading to misjudgments that result in collisions. Distractions such as texting, adjusting the radio, or engaging in conversation also divert attention away from the critical task of navigating the turn safely. These distractions can delay reaction times and increase the likelihood of accidents.

Pedestrians and Cyclists

Left turns often involve complex interactions with pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians crossing the street may not always be visible to drivers making left turns, especially if they are obscured by other vehicles or objects. This creates a situation where drivers may inadvertently collide with pedestrians legally crossing the intersection. Cyclists traveling in bike lanes or alongside traffic face increased risks when drivers fail to yield properly during left turns.


Infrastructure design also contributes to the danger of turning left. Many intersections lack dedicated left-turn lanes or advanced green signals, forcing drivers to make unprotected turns across multiple lanes of traffic. This increases the likelihood of conflicts with oncoming vehicles and can lead to rear-end collisions as drivers slow down or stop suddenly to make their turn.

Severity of Crash

Left-turn accidents are often severe due to the angles at which vehicles collide. When two vehicles intersect at an angle during a left-turn collision, the impact forces are concentrated on a smaller area of the vehicle, increasing the risk of serious injury or death for occupants. This is especially true in side-impact collisions, where vehicles are more vulnerable to intrusion from the striking vehicle.

Common Injuries Sustained in Left-Turn Crashes

In left-turn crashes, the most common types of injuries tend to involve the hands, wrists, arms, and upper body. This is because the turn often exposes the driver and passengers to the side of the vehicle, where there’s less protection compared to the front or rear. Some of the common injuries in left-turn crashes include:

  • Hand and wrist injuries: Because the hands are on the steering wheel during the turn, occupants may sustain injuries such as fractures, sprains, or contusions to the hands and wrists.
  • Arm injuries: Injuries to the arms can occur from impact with the door, dashboard, or other objects inside the vehicle during a collision. Fractures, bruises, and soft tissue injuries are common.
  • Upper body injuries: The upper body is often vulnerable in left-turn crashes, with occupants at risk of chest injuries from impact with the steering wheel or dashboard. Rib fractures, bruising, and internal injuries can result.
  • Head and facial injuries: Depending on the severity of the crash and the presence of airbags, occupants may sustain head and facial injuries from impact with the airbag, window, or other hard surfaces.
  • Neck injuries: Whiplash and other neck injuries are common in any type of car accident, including left-turn crashes, due to the sudden deceleration forces involved.
  • Lower extremity injuries: While less common in left-turn crashes compared to head-on or side-impact collisions, occupants may still sustain leg or knee injuries from impact with the vehicle interior.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Assistance

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our skilled Virginia Beach car accident lawyers. Our personal injury attorneys have successfully obtained financial compensation for many clients, like the $235,000 car accident insurance settlement for one client who suffered multiple injuries when another motorist negligently failed to yield the right of way.

Our firm also has satellite offices in Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.