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Why a car’s left turn can be so dangerous for motorcyclists

Recent statistics reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that many motorcycle accidents happen at intersections when a motorist makes a left turn in front of a motorcyclist traveling straight, thereby failing to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist. These are potentially deadly motorcycle accidents because the rider will either strike the side of the car turning left, possibly flipping the bike over the car, or will need to make a very risky maneuver to avoid doing so. Such emergency swerves often end poorly for even the most experienced motorcyclist.

The NHSTA estimates that these unsafe left turns accounted for over 40 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involving a collision between a motorcycle and another vehicle, at least judging by numbers from 2015. Accidents of this sort happen for a couple of reasons. First, motorcycles are just harder for drivers to see, so a driver who is even slightly inattentive when turning left may never notice an approaching motorcycle. Moreover, although probably not intentionally, drivers do tend to easily forget about or ignore motorcycles that are on the road.

Another reason these accidents happen is that it can be very hard for a driver who is getting ready to turn left to determine the actual speed of an approaching motorcycle, as well as how much distance the motorcycle is from the intersection. The end result is a driver who gets a little impatient may wind up pulling out in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

The bottom line is that while common, these failure to yield accidents are entirely preventable. All motorists need do is check and double check before turning left. If they do see an oncoming motorcycle, it’s probably best to let it go by. If a motorist does not follow these simple tips and causes an accident, they may be liable to pay compensation.