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Common Two-Lane Turn Hazards

Having the choice of two separate lanes while turning is definitely an advantage, especially during rush hour traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue or Dupont Circle. Not only does it speed up traffic and make it less congested, but it also gives you the option to be in the correct lane after you turn.

Unfortunately, it also provides increased risks for a turning collision. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, approximately 1.7 million accidents a year in the United States result from vehicles improperly turning.

Common Risks Of Dual Lane Turns

Obviously turning risks are already high, but when intersections have two turn lanes, the risks are doubled. Not only do the regular hazards apply (such as pedestrians in the crosswalk and intersection collisions between through traffic and oncoming turners), but double turning lanes also present their own unique dangers:

  • Turning into the wrong lane. Generally, when you turn at an intersection, you have only one destination lane; therefore, it doesn’t matter how wide or short your turn is, as long as you don’t get too close to oncoming traffic. However, this isn’t the case with double turn lanes. You must know which lane you’re in before and during the turn, to make sure you wind up in the correct lane after the turn. Otherwise, you could wind up cutting off or colliding with a car in the other destination lane.
  • Truck rollover risks. The chances of a rollover accident rise at dual-lane turns. In part, this happens because truck drivers try to focus on the turn and the cars beside them during the turn, and this causes them to sacrifice their perspective on overall traffic and lose some maneuverability. Turns always are dangerous for potential truck rollover accidents, but having a vehicle next to a truck during the turn also increases the risk that the truck will roll over onto that vehicle, crushing it and its passengers.
  • Limited visibility. When two cars are turning, the driver in the outside lane loses some portion of his field of vision. Since the inside lane has a shorter turn, he will reach the crosswalk first, blocking the outside driver’s view. In theory, a pedestrian could be in the crosswalk — having just bypassed the first car — but the outside driver wouldn’t be able to see him since the other car would be blocking his view.

Turning requires a lot of focus, attention and accurate maneuvering to be safe. Don’t take turning in stride! Make sure you are aware of your surroundings, can predict the projected path of your fellow drivers, and travel at a reasonable and cautious rate. Safety is always more important than speed.

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