Left hand turns are precarious, especially when you’re trying to navigate around oncoming traffic on a busy road. If your judgment is faulty or your visibility is compromised in any way, performing a left hand turn that isn’t controlled by a traffic arrow may be extremely dangerous. Here at 1stCertified Collision Centers we know all too well that many collisions happen throughout all of Southern CA and the nation when drivers make mistakes while negotiating a left hand turn. So, here are some helpful tips for how to do a successful (and safe) left hand turn.

One of the main problems with left hand turns is that ongoing traffic often does not adhere to the listed speed limit. When someone is racing through a light at 10-20 miles over the limit, it seriously affects the entire flow. If people stay at the prescribed speed limits, left hand turns at intersections with traffic lights work well. Nevertheless, since you obviously can’t control what the other driver is doing, here are some basic directives on left hand turns.

Federal data has shown that 53.1% of crossing-path crashes involve left hand turns, but only 5.7% involve right turns. That’s nearly 10 times as many crashes involving left turns versus right. A study by New York City’s transportation planners concluded that left hand turns were three times as likely to cause a fatal accident involving a pedestrian as right hand turns. In addition, 36% of fatal accidents involving a motorcycle involve a left hand turn in front of a motorcycle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).

Many large companies with enormous fleets are telling their drivers to avoid taking left hand turns when possible. UPS, one of largest shipping and logistics companies in the world is one of these companies. UPS has recently decided to minimize and in some cases completely eliminate left hand turns to be more proficient as an operation. The company says these changes have helped to save millions of gallons of fuel and improve its safety ratings as well.


Whenever you’re making a left turn, remember the following:

• Always yield the right of way to other traffic.

• Signal for the left hand turn at least 150 feet in advance of the intersection.

• Make certain there are no other cars, bicycles, motorcycles or pedestrians in your lane. Be prepared to yield to anyone in the crosswalk.

• Give yourself sufficient time to maneuver your vehicle from a stopped position across traffic lanes.

Whether you live here in Southern CA or anywhere else in the country, left hand turns are always tricky and potentially dangerous as well. So, the next time when you’re trying to make a left hand turn at a traffic light and people are speeding from the other direction, take a deep breath. If you follow our simple steps and remember to be patient, you will make it through that left hand turn successively and safely.