08 Mar 2019

What’s one of the most dangerous driver errors? You’re not going to be right.

Posted By Darrigo & Diaz

Dangerous driver errors

We’ve all witnessed it:

A driver making a LEFT-HAND turn at an intersection who misjudges the distance and timing of oncoming traffic and just narrowly avoids a collision, often having to emphatically swerve or accelerate.

This exact scenario is one of the most common—and dangerous—traffic maneuvers to occur on today’s roadways. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), turning left is a leading critical pre-crash event that occurs in 22.2 percent of all automobile crashes. Even more telling, of all the accidents that occur at intersections, which was reported by the Federal Highway Administration to be approximately 2.5 million in 2018, 61 percent involve a left-hand turn.1


Intersection accidents typically involve side-impact collisions, which kill between 8,000 and 10,000 people each year, more than rear-end and head-on collisions combined. Even at speeds as low as 30 mph, side impact car crashes routinely cause serious injuries to the occupants of the struck car.

While most cars have safety features designed to protect drivers and passengers from front and rear accidents, only a few cars offer side curtain airbags and enhanced side-body protection. Really, vehicles do not offer much protection from side impact crashes, and this causes serious harm to victims of intersection accidents.

Is the driver turning left always at fault?

Drivers involved in left-hand turns accidents are routinely found to be at-fault under Florida traffic laws, which state that drivers who are turning left, must yield to oncoming traffic. In fact, existing right-of-way laws are written broadly to protect other motorists and make liability more likely for drivers who were making left-hand turns.

However, as with most driving scenarios, there are always exceptions.

Understanding Florida right-of-way laws

According to section 316.122 of Florida’s right-of-way laws, left-hand turning drivers at intersections must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. More specifically, this law requires left-hand turning drivers to yield to any vehicle that is “so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” The law places greater burden on drivers who are turning left.

Unavoidable dangers of left-hand turns

According to the NHTSA, of all intersection accidents that occur each year, 96% involve driver-related causes.1

Most left-turn intersection accidents occur mid-turn, resulting in a “T-bone” or side-impact collision. That specific type of crash frequently causes significant injuries or fatalities. Data from the NHTSA1 shows that the misjudgment of left-hand turns is the most fatal driver error.

A study2 investigating the factors involved in left-turn accidents found the following frequent reasons for an accident:

  • Poor visibility, obstructed views, and blind spots
  • Misjudgment of the oncoming-traffic’s speed
  • Misjudgment of the intersection length
  • Distracted driving, usually cell phone or texting
  • Illegal turns

However, these steps can help you avoid this type of collision:

If you are turning left at an intersection:

  • Always come to a complete stop: even if there is no traffic in sight, stop and take a second look.
  • Pay attention: it’s important to be absolutely aware of what’s going on around you. Your line of sight is important, so be sure that traffic is clear.
  • Leave room: you need room to move. If you need to pull a “Fast & Furious” type of launch, then it’s probably a better idea to hold off.
  • Be patient: wait for a clear, absolute opening.

D&D – The Florida Intersection Accident Experts

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries as a result of a left-turn intersection accident, we are ready to put our resources, experience, and unrivalled Florida intersection accident expertise to work for you and your family. We understand the seriousness of intersection accidents; we strive to build the best possible case to obtain the compensation you need and deserve; and we ensure you and your family’s future is better, and more secure.

Our Tampa car accident lawyers are here to help you and your family. Contact us by phone at 813-877-5548.

We have been serving clients throughout the Tampa Bay area since 1999. Led by Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Nadine Diaz, our firm is recognized as a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®.


  1. National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey
  2. Estimation of left-turning vehicle maneuvers for the assessment of pedestrian safety at intersections. Science Direct. 36:1. 2012
Categories: Car Accidents
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