Well. My son is now on the cusp of driving. By the end of this month he will have finished up his driver's ed classes, and he should have his driver's license. A few years back, I shared my experiences as my daughter started driving.
As I ride around in the passenger seat, I take time to share some tips and suggestions with the newest driver in the family. Tip #1 remains – Left Turns Are the Most Dangerous. Left turns are so dangerous that many companies in the business of driving avoid them all together. UPS has famously had a “No Left Turn” policy for over a decade. And there is even growing commentary that left turns should be abolished.
A study on crash factors from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association found that turning left is one of the leading “critical pre-crash events” (an event that makes a collision inevitable), occurring in 22.2% of crashes, as opposed to only 1.2% for right turns. About 61% of crashes at intersections involve a left hand turn.
What makes left hand turns so risky? These turns require drivers to multi-task and focus their attention on several different places. They also require acceleration from a stopped place of safety across the path of oncoming traffic. Left turns take drivers against traffic and into the path of oncoming cars, and most take place at the driver's discretion.
So, what to tell a new driver? Be actively aware and cautious at all times, but especially when preparing for a left turn. And if possible, turn left at intersections with dedicated left turn arrows.
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