Injured in an Accident Caused by an Improper Turn?
Whether drivers change lanes without signaling or turn improperly, improper turns are a major cause of traffic accidents. In fact, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, improper turns are among the top five causes of automobile accidents. Some of these accidents can just be minor fender-benders. However, a Chicago improper turn accident lawyer knows they often result in far more serious collisions. This type of accident can result in major injuries or even fatalities.
Are Improper Turns a Significant Cause of Traffic Accidents?
Improper turns remain a major cause of traffic collisions. A recent study by The Auto Insurance Center of the major causes of fatal traffic accidents determined the top five causes of fatal accidents. They used NHTSA data from 2009-2013. They found that the top 2 causes of fatal accidents were:
- Failure to stay in the proper lane
- Improper turns
For whatever reason, distractions often result in a driver drifting into another lane. The distraction could be adjusting the car’s temperature or sound system, trying to reset the GPS, or just talking to a passenger. Drifting often happens without the driver’s awareness. Further, changing lanes without signaling, even if intentional, can be just as dangerous as unintentional lane changes. Many newer vehicles have technology that provides alerts if you are drifting out of your lane. However, that is no substitute for being aware at all times of where you are on the road and whether you are in your lane.
Erratic lane changes are dangerous because of their unpredictability, especially when they are made without a turn signal. Bouncing between lanes can create a highly dangerous environment on the road. A 2014 national study by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) found that drivers do not use a turn signal during lane changes nearly half the time, and they fail to signal roughly a quarter of their turns. The SAE report was based on researchers who observed 12,000 vehicles. Those vehicles failed to signal a lane change 48 percent of the time and failed to signal 25 percent of their turns. Those findings were supported by a 2006 survey by Response Insurance, in which 57 percent of those surveyed admitted not using turn signals when changing lanes.
Failing to signal a turn is rarely cited on its own, but these improper turns cause a lot of traffic accidents. In New York’s most recent tally of accidents, unsafe lane changes were the fifth most common cause of accidents and improper turns were the seventh-leading cause. California cites improper turns as the primary cause of nearly 86,000 accidents in 2007.
Improper turns cause millions of collisions nationwide. For drivers who make a turn, failing to signal can mean the difference between having a case or a denied claim. Further, the failure to signal could result in liability for the other driver’s damages as well. Using your turn signal for every lane change or turn is a critical step in avoiding accidents. It also helps in avoiding liability for those accidents that do occur in the course of a turn or lane change.
What Constitutes an Improper Turn?
Lane changes and turns without signaling are easy calls when it comes to designating something as an improper turn or lane change. However, there are other examples of improper turns that are both dangerous and common, including:
- Turning at a red light when there is a “No Turn on Red” sign
- A right turn at a stop sign or red light without coming to a complete stop
- Turning left at a red light
- Turning without signaling
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Turning from the wrong lane, such as making a right turn from the left lane or a multi-lane road
All of these situations can result in accidents. Turning from the wrong lane can put a vehicle directly in the path of a vehicle behind it in the next lane. The other kinds of improper turns from the list above can likewise put a turning vehicle into the path of oncoming traffic. This can result in a “T-bone” collision, where the oncoming vehicle strikes another vehicle solidly in the side. These types of collisions can result in significant damages and injuries.
You can avoid many of these accidents by simply being alert and paying attention to your surroundings. A federal study found that in accidents caused by driver errors, about 41 percent of the driver-related factors in causing an accident was “recognition errors that include inattention, internal and external distractions, inadequate surveillance, etc.” The most common of these types of errors were “inadequate surveillance”. In other words, failing to look or see other traffic activity that would make the driver’s actions unsafe. This was a critical factor in 20 percent of driver-error crashes, including improper turns.
Should You Contact a Chicago Improper Turn Accident Lawyer?
If you have been in an accident due to a driver making an improper turn, you should consult an attorney. He or she can determine your rights based on the circumstances of your accident. The other driver’s negligence in failing to signal or failing to properly turn could lead to your ability to recover damages for that driver’s negligence.