Left-Hand Turn Collisions – Here’s What You Need to Know

Half of all accidents involving motorcycles are caused by drivers turning left in front of the motorcyclist.  Drivers either don’t see or don’t perceive the motorcycle.

Most of these left-hand turn collisions happen when the motorcycle and the car or truck are going in opposite directions.  But they can also happen when the motorcycle and other vehicle are going in the same direction.  A recent accident in Bow illustrates the point:

Late Sunday morning, a Lake Stevens motorcyclist was injured in a crash and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center.

As she attempted to pass three vehicles, the front vehicle made a left turn in front of her. Unable to stop in time, the motorcycle went down and slid across the pavement, hitting the driver’s side of the turning vehicle.

The newspaper story implies that the motorcyclist was at fault because she was passing.  But just because someone’s passing doesn’t mean they’re at fault.  Washington law permits passing on the right when the lane is wide enough for two vehicles to drive along it side by side.

The real focus should be on the driver’s decision-making.  Under Washington law a driver: (1) can’t turn a vehicle left or right unless the movement can be made reasonably and safely; (2) needs to use the turn signal to indicate the turn, beginning at least 100 feet before the turn; and (3) needs to check for approaching vehicles before making the turn.

In this case it’s apparent that the driver didn’t check or check well enough before making the left hand turn and causing the accident.

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