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Why left-hand turns are still common

Quite a few organizations have proven that left-hand turns are dangerous. In fact, they are one of the most dangerous driving moves, yet they are generally legal and used at practically any intersection.

However, thanks to the publicization of UPS trucks' driving methods, more members of the public are learning about the risks of left-hand turns. UPS aims to have its trucks take a left-hand turn only when it is unavoidable, and in doing so, the company helps the environment, saves on gas, improves efficiency, and no doubt, prevents many crashes.

What the numbers say

In New York City, pedestrians are three times more at risk of sustaining a fatal injury by a left-hand turn than they are from a right turn, according to transportation planners for the city. As for the country in general, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association indicate that right turns made a crash inevitable in only 1.2 percent of collisions. On the other hand, a left turn played a key role in 22.2 percent of crashes.

The evidence is clear: Turning left is a lot riskier than turning right. Left turns contribute to congestion and accidents. Why, then, are these turns still a possibility? There are alternatives such as diverging diamond intersections, after all.

It has always been that way

The answer to the question posed above is a matter of opinion, of course. Simply put, it can be hard to change an ingrained practice that has been around for as long as Americans can remember. Taking away left-hand turns could feel like infringing on personal freedoms. Despite the scary numbers associated with left-hand turns, many people have not been directly affected by a left-hand turn that led to an injury. This can be frustrating to the many Americans, drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians alike, who have been seriously hurt in such a crash.

The hope is that as the public learns more about left-hand turns, drivers will start being more careful when making them.

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