Turning left can be safer
I love driving. Okay, that’s got to be one of the most obvious statements I can make if you’re a regular reader of my articles. One of the reasons I enjoy driving is the fact I create space around my vehicle to help me and my passengers remain safe. I also get to share these ideas with many others, especially the students I teach at Young Drivers of Canada. Now’s the time to share. I’m a giver.
One of the most dangerous things we do as drivers is turning left at traffic lights. As we turn across the path of oncoming traffic, we put ourselves and our passengers at risk of a side impact crash. It doesn’t have to be risky if it’s done the correct way. One of the riskier left turns at traffic lights is done at a large intersection; one with traffic islands beside you and opposite you.
I see most drivers pull into the intersection to wait to make that left turn with their vehicle angled and wheels angled as well. Problem. If for any reason you’re hit from behind, that waiting position will push you into oncoming traffic. So not only will you be hit from behind, but also from in front or a side impact with the oncoming vehicles. Injury, especially to your front seat passenger will be increased dramatically by that type of waiting position. So if this is a bad way to wait for a gap in traffic, why not change how you wait?
If you’re able to position your vehicle slightly to the left in the intersection, as the photo shows, you’ll have a better view of oncoming traffic before making your turn. This is something we’ve taught our students at Young Drivers of Canada for more than 25 years. Not only does this help the driver improve their view of oncoming traffic, but it also helps us as driving instructors see that it’s safe for the driver to make their turn. After all, if that new driver turned when an oncoming vehicle was approaching, I would get hit first since I would be in the front seat passenger seat. Why would I want to teach something that would be dangerous for the driver and me?
To help you move your vehicle slightly to the left of the intersection, start drifting toward the end of the traffic island while you’re in the left turning lane as you near the crosswalk and then straighten out the vehicle as you enter the intersection. Entering the intersection as little as possible will also help you improve your visibility. Getting too far up into the intersection will stop you from seeing past the opposing driver who may also be making a left turn.
Now your vehicle is straight, slightly to the left of the intersection and also in front of your own traffic island. With such an improved visibility, you’ll be able to reduce the risk of making these dreaded left turns and keep you and your passengers safe.
**If you angle your wheels watch what can happen HERE