Motorcyclists Endangered by Left Turning Vehicles

Motorcyclists are often at increased danger when vehicles turn left at intersections. A left turn is a potentially dangerous maneuver because the vehicle enters the lane of an oncoming motorcyclist. Significant caution must be used, when a motorcycle is approaching.

Arizona law provides that a left turning vehicle has the responsibility to yield to vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, which are within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

The left hand turn is a common cause of motorcycle collisions. The smaller size of a motorcycle and the operator make it less visible on the road, and more vulnerable to being in a collision. Motorists may not see the oncoming motorcyclist or may not see the motorcyclist in time to avoid the crash. Distracted driving is also a cause of these collisions.

I have represented numerous motorcyclists, seriously injured or killed at intersections, when a left turning driver was negligent. Examples include the following:

I have had two such tragic cases at the same intersection, Tatum and Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley. In one case, a southbound left turning driver’s vehicle hit and killed a northbound motorcyclist. In another case, a southbound turning driver caused serious and permanent leg injuries to my client, who was proceeding northbound. Both motorcyclists were driving within the speed limit, through a green light.

Another fatality case involved a motorcyclist who proceeded through an intersection, on a green light in Pinetop, Arizona. A left turning driver never saw the motorcyclist, he was killed.