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Left Turn Collisions Bike, E-Scooter and Motorcycle Crash Accidents

left hand turn sign

One of the most dangerous and deadly types of crashes for a cyclist, e-bike rider, e-scooter rider, or motorcyclist is the left turn crash. Quite often the left turn is made at high speed, with no warning, giving the oncoming bike E-Scooter rider or moped rider no time to react to avoid the crash. The law clearly recognizes that the obligation to execute a safe left turn rests solely with the vehicle driver making that turn.

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law §1141, is the applicable statute defining the duty imposed upon a driver when executing a left turn on a roadway, into a driveway, or parking lot. The sum of the law states the following:

“The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection… shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

Vehicles turning left are also governed by VTL §1163. In New York City there is additionally §4-03 of the Traffic Rules of the City of New York as NYC has its own additional rules and regulations. These statues set forth a motorist’s obligations when attempting to make a left turn (on a green light) through an intersection:

§ 1163: Turning Movements: (a) No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection… or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course… unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety…”

§ 4-03(a)(1)(i): “Vehicular traffic facing such signals (green) may proceed straight through or turn right or left… But vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right of way to other vehicles within the intersection at the time the signal is exhibited.”

Intersection turns in New York State are also governed by VTL §1163(a) which provides “no person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection… unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.”

When confronted with the scenario, the vehicle with the right of way should be found 100 % free of fault in causing the crash. For Example, in Cadeau v. Gregorio, 104 A.D.3d 464, 961 N.Y.S.2d 106 (1st Dept., 2013) the court found that the oncoming driver was not negligent when she submitted evidence that, within a fraction of a second of her seeing it in the left-turn lane on the opposite side of the intersection, the vehicle operated by defendant…made a left turn across the path of her oncoming vehicle and that she applied her brakes very hard but could not avoid the collision.

Likewise, the left-turning driver should be found 100% responsible for causing the crash. When the bicyclist, motorcycle rider, or e-scooter rider can establish that the oncoming vehicle made a sudden left turn, the fault lies 100% on that left-turning vehicle. For example, “Plaintiff submitted evidence in admissible form, including her affidavit and a police report containing admissions by the defendant, demonstrating that defendant made an abrupt left-hand turn into the path of plaintiff’s vehicle, which was passing through an intersection with a green light in its favor and the right-of-way, and that plaintiff was free from any negligence. This evidence, which demonstrated that the defendant violated Vehicle and Traffic Law §1141, was sufficient to establish the plaintiff’s entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of which driver was responsible for the accident.”

Left turns are one of the most dangerous types of crashes for a vulnerable road user. It is the obligation of the driver turning left to not turn into the path of a motorist, bicycle, e-scooter, Vespa, or any other vulnerable road user so as to not cause a crash or accident.