Would you turn blind?
Turning left; it’s one of the most dangerous things we do while driving. Granted, driving in itself is always dangerous. Whether it’s distracted driving, poor road conditions, mechanical breakdown, whatever; it’s always dangerous. Most of the time, our vehicles can protect us with their safety features, but we’re not always that lucky. Considering that most crashes occur at intersections, why not spend a bit more time ensuring it’s safe before making that left turn through traffic?
There was a fatal crash recently when a driver attempted to make a left turn through what they thought was a clear path. They were traveling westbound, wanting to turn left when they saw a clear path after the eastbound traffic stopped. What they failed to notice was the second lane of traffic. They were struck in the front passenger door in a side impact, or t-bone crash as it were, and the passenger was killed. A change in the driver’s thought process could have avoided this horrible crash. http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/675343–crash-on-barton-street-leaves-woman-dead-two-men-injured
While waiting to make your left turn through traffic, keep looking ahead beyond the traffic to find an opening. If you can’t see for sure, wait. If there are multiple lanes, also ensure there isn’t anyone coming in the curb lane. If you’re unsure, wait. It’s actually safer to make the left turn at a traffic light as opposed to turning left without a traffic light. While you’re waiting to make the turn, you can always turn under the safety of the amber light, once you know the oncoming traffic has stopped. Plan your route to see if that is possible or perhaps even making a few right turns instead of making that left turn at busy intersections.
We sometimes feel it’s safe to make that left turn when we see oncoming drivers stop to let us through. Don’t get caught up with their act of kindness because the second lane of traffic still poses a great risk to you and your passengers as well. Speaking of the oncoming traffic, what can you do if someone wants to turn left in front of you and you’re in the curb lane?
The first thing is to anticipate the turn in front may happen. Glance at the space ahead of the first driver who has stopped in the left lane beside you. It’s also important to know what’s behind you as you’re approaching this situation, so keep checking your rear view mirror. Look for the front of the oncoming vehicle edging toward your lane. Just before you get to that space, check your rear view mirror once again and gently apply your brake. This warns the driver behind you with your brake lights that you may be stopping or slowing and it will reduce your response time in case you actually need to slow or stop.
Another thing you can do is be ready to honk your horn. Having your hand on the horn control will reduce the time needed to honk and sometimes a loud, long honk can stop the oncoming driver from making that dangerous turn.
Being ready for the unexpected means it’s no longer unexpected. You’re becoming a proactive driver and able to respond earlier and perhaps even avoid the crash entirely. The only t-bone you should ever have is in the form of a steak.