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Why left-hand turns endanger motorcyclists

While motorcycles are often a fun, economical and efficient way to commute, they leave riders vulnerable to serious injuries or death in an automobile collision. After all, motorcycles lack the steel cage that protects drivers of most cars, trucks and SUVs. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents in 2017. As many as a third of motorcycle accidents that year may have involved a motorist executing a left-hand turn. Why are left-hand turns so dangerous for riders, though? 


Before motorists turn left, they must look for pedestrians, oncoming traffic and other potential hazards. While they may expect to see a car approaching, drivers may not see your motorcycle. Even worse, if the driver who turns in front of your bike looks at his or her smartphone or GPS device, you may find yourself in the middle of a serious accident. 


Because motorcycles are less common on roadways than other types of vehicles, motorists may be less capable of accurately gauging your approach. That is, a driver may think you are moving slower than you actually are. Additionally, if a driver must come to a full stop before executing the turn, he or she may have a harder time moving from your path. 


At one time or another, everyone has seen a driver accelerate to try to make a turn before a light changes or oncoming vehicles arrive at the intersection. Of course, if a motorist rushes, he or she may have insufficient time to identify your oncoming bike. 

Always obeying traffic laws and wearing appropriate safety gear are generally effective ways to stay safe on your motorcycle. Still, you should know why left-hand turns tend to endanger motorcyclists. With a bit of knowledge and some additional caution, you can likely minimize your chances of sustaining a serious injury during a collision with a turning vehicle.

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