You have a green light and are heading straight through the intersection, when suddenly you see a car making a left turn directly towards you. Maybe it was trying to beat the light before it changed, or the driver was distracted and just didn’t see you. Whatever the reason is, you and your motorcycle are now up against a much larger, heavier, and possibly fast-moving vehicle, so you need to act quickly to avoid impact.
Left-turn accidents like these are the most common type of motorcycle-car accident, according to Ride Apart. Part of the issue is that car drivers are more accustomed to watching for other cars before making a left turn, and they may be less likely to notice a smaller vehicle. It’s obviously the car driver’s responsibility to make sure there is no oncoming vehicle traffic before they take a left turn, but there’s no way to guarantee that every driver will do this.
So what do you do if the worst should happen and a left-turning car is barreling towards you while you’re on your bike? It’s all too easy to freeze up, but that’s exactly what you can’t afford to do. You’ll need to think fast, and in order to do that, it’s best to know ahead of time how to evade left-turn accidents. Keep the following tips in mind to keep yourself safe.
6 Tips to Avoid Being Hit by a Left-Turning Car
1. Make sure you can always see oncoming traffic. Don’t follow too closely behind a large vehicle—not only will you have less time to react if they suddenly brake, you also won’t be able to clearly see all oncoming traffic and may not notice a left-turning car until it’s too late.
2. Be aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, it’s not just oncoming traffic that you need to be watching for. You need to pay close attention to traffic on all sides of you, especially if you’re riding on a multilane roadway. By knowing where other vehicles are, you’ll have a better sense of where you can turn to take evasive action if a car does start making a left turn in front of you. If you’re not paying attention, you may swerve out of the way of the turning car only to collide with another vehicle in the next lane.
3. Be wary of lights that have just turned green. If you’re sitting at a red light and it suddenly turns green, you should have the right of way, but you need to keep in mind that cars in the oncoming left turn lane may be racing to beat a yellow light (or just blatantly blowing through a red light). Take a moment to check that oncoming traffic has completely stopped before proceeding—getting honked at by an impatient driver behind you isn’t nearly as bad as colliding head-on with a larger vehicle.
4. Be wary of gaps in traffic. Drivers attempting to make a left turn from a side street or parking lot will be looking for gaps in traffic so that they can proceed, and just like drivers in intersections, they’re more likely to be looking for other cars than for motorcycles. If there’s a gap in traffic in front of you and you notice a car is attempting to make a left turn, watch the car carefully, slow down, and be prepared to stop if necessary.
5. Cover your brakes. You should be prepared to brake suddenly when you’re riding, since you can’t count on car drivers to react as quickly as you.
6. Focus on an escape route. If you’re in an intersection and a left-turning car is coming towards you, you may not have time to stop and will have to attempt to use an escape route instead. Look at the trajectory of the car—if it’s still moving because the driver hasn’t seen you, your best bet may be to steer around the back of the car. If the driver has come to a stop, you may be best off driving through the open hole in front of them (although you’ll have to pay close attention to a lot of other factors, such as the flow of traffic around you). Watch your escape path instead of the oncoming car to decrease your chances of crashing.
Sadly, there may be some situations where there’s no safe escape route, and all you can do is slow down to reduce the impact of the crash as much as possible. If you are injured in this type of accident in which a car failed to yield to you, keep in mind that you have the right to monetary compensation for your injuries. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to pursue the damages to which you’re entitled.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”