Among other rules of the road, Georgia’s rule related to left hand turns is set in stone: thou shall yield to oncoming traffic prior to making a left hand turn. In fact, the Highway Administration estimates that roughly 22% of wrecks are caused by left hand turns alone. And, UPS made notice of an estimate that a left hand turn adds on an additional 30-45 seconds to a road trip. Apparently, through creating its own software and maps, UPS has been able to avoid left hand turns that saves UPS from 6-8 miles per route, 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, emission pollution equivalent to over 21,000 less passenger cars per year and 10 millions of gas each year.
But, wait, there’s more. A study determined that right hand turns only cause about 1.2 % of all crashes. And, out of all crashes that occur whilst turning or crossing an intersection, 61% relate to left hand turns as opposed to 3 % as to right hand turns. If you read further, you discover that left hand turns are three times more likely to result in a fatal wreck. Thus, if you are a pedestrian, it is probably better to use a sidewalk to the right of moving traffic.
I have been practicing personal injury law for over 25 years. I represent motorists that have been injured by the negligence of drivers that have made left hand turns. The law in Georgia, O.C.G.A. 40-6-71, basically mandates that drivers intending to turn left must yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction irrespective if that vehicle is in an intersection or so close to one that it is a hazard.
So, what is it about a left hand turn that creates so many car collisions? First and foremost, whenever you make a left turn, you are so doing so against oncoming traffic. So, you have to time your left hand turn in advance to leave you enough time to make the turn safely. If oncoming traffic is traveling faster than usual, then you have less time to make the turn. Second, making a left turn typically causes traffic behind you to back up. Some of those vehicles may attempt to cut right behind you and in front of fast approaching traffic behind them – thus, causing a crash. Third, some oncoming motorists actually speed up when they see a vehicle fail to yield the right of way and dare to turn left in front of them. I don’t believe that such drivers intend to cause a wreck. Rather, these drivers intend to send a message. Road rage and A type motorists are real.
Typically, failure to yield (enough time and space) to oncoming traffic results in a t-bone type (side impact) collision where the point of impact is between the front of an oncoming vehicle and the passenger side of the at- fault driver. Most vehicles are not equipped with side air bags and the door is the only protection. Even at speeds less than 30 mph, side impacts can be devastating to passenger and motorist alike.
The injuries that I see most often to passengers that are struck from the side include head injuries, chest, leg, abdomen and pelvis. Basically, the body is completely exposed to a devastating impact that travels from the front bumper through the side door through and every inch of the passenger. The injuries that I most often see to drivers include neck, back and shoulder injuries. Based on the speed of the impact, it is not surprising to see that the steel door of the car is actually bent (or intruded) in by several inches and sometimes, feet. As you can imagine, some impacts can be fatal. Thus, a good reason to place child car seats in the left rear side of your car.
If you are injured as the result of the fault of a driver who fails to yield while turning left, then you are entitled to compensation for damages under Georgia law. Typically, damages would include the following: 1) payment for medical/therapy/physical treatment for injuries; 2) payment for repair (and possibly diminished value, if the vehicle is less than 7 years old and has a fairly clean history of prior impacts) of the vehicle or payment of fair market value if the vehicle cannot be repaired; and 3) compensation for past, present and future physical/mental pain and suffering due to the injuries. However, other damages could be available based on your personal experience and fact pattern. It is important you that you contact me as soon as you can to learn the full extent of your rights under Georgia law.
Please note that the Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting accident and collision cases throughout Georgia, including collisions caused by a drunk or wrong way driver. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence of a motorist, then please contact an experienced attorney for a free consultation to document and preserve evidence and present your claim in a competent and timely fashion. We have over 20 years experience and practice throughout the State of Georgia and can come to you. Please call 404-869-6969 or use our toll free number (855) LAW-FORD to secure your rights today!