Author: Angel Reyes  

Auto Accidents

At the end of 2021 – on December 26 – an on-duty Houston Police Officer hit a 75-year-old motorist turning left onto Thornton Road from southbound N. Shepherd. The motorist, Charles Payne, was driving home from church when the officer struck him. According to authorities, the officer was operating an agency-issued SUV patrol vehicle when he hit Payne. First responders transported Payne to a local hospital for minor injuries, but unfortunately, Payne did not make it. The Houston Police Department Vehicular Crimes and Internal Affairs Divisions, as well as the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, are investigating the fatal accident. The officer was not responding to any calls at the time of the accident.

Left-Hand Turns

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, left-hand turns are the most dangerous maneuver a driver can make. There are multiple factors a motorist has to pay attention to and multitask to successfully make a safe, left-hand turn. Here are some reasons why:

  • Sudden stops: if you’re waiting behind another car as you’re turning left, you might believe the driver will complete the turn once it is started and avert your eyes to cross traffic. If you do not check to see if the driver in front of you finished the turn, you might rear-end them by going forward.
  • Inability to judge speed: this generally looks like jumping out in front of oncoming traffic. It usually happens when traffic is highly congested. Not gauging the right time to turn can result in a T-bone accident.
  • Blind turns: left turns require you to pay attention to traffic coming from both the left and right. However, blind turns make it difficult to accomplish this task since it demands the driver to pay closer attention to unexpected traffic.
  • Poor vantage point: if other drivers across the intersection are turning left, it makes it challenging for you to see around them. Drivers sometimes mistakenly believe that the coast is clear when a car is speeding up to beat the light.
  • Unfamiliar intersections: so many of us fail to realize it, but the familiarity of our daily commute provides you with the experience you need to drive safely. Unfamiliar intersections may have irregularities which you do not know about, and thereby create a hazard.
  • Traffic lights: traffic lights set the pace of the signal cycle. However, when yellow lights appear, people race to make it through. Unfortunately, this can result in serious car accident injuries for everyone involved, especially when running a red light.

Factors that make Left-Hand Turns more Dangerous

Unfortunately, left-hand turns are three times more likely to cause a deadly crash then right-hand turns.

  • Traffic congestion: making a left-hand turn in heavy traffic can equate to long delays. In turn, more aggressive drivers hoping to make it across the intersection may press the gas pedal way too quickly.
  • Pedestrians in crosswalks: when you are waiting to make a left turn, you might not notice pedestrians and cyclists in your turning path. This situation is usually because the driver is focusing on oncoming traffic.
  • Driving at night: the glare of headlights makes it a challenge to gauge the speed at which other motorists are traveling. This is the perfect recipe for causing a car, truck, or motorcycle accident.
  • Environment: hills, blind turns, and other elements can make it challenging to initiate a left-hand turn quickly, especially in congested areas.
  • Road conditions: most drivers generally begin a left-hand turn from a full stop. In areas battling rainy, icy, or snowy conditions, this can cause motorists to experience reduced visibility or vehicle performance.
  • Type of vehicle: smaller vehicles are more difficult to see, which means that other drivers may not notice those who are making left-hand turns. Even bigger vehicles face the issue of having a slower acceleration speed and fail to turn fast enough.

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Citizens should be able to rely on law enforcement to not only protect and serve, but also stay alert and defensive enough on the road to not be the ones causing car collisions. A police officer should never be the reason an individual is injured in a car wreck.

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