In Florida, 714 traffic fatalities recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were intersection-related accidents. These include accidents that occur when a vehicle attempts to make a left turn.
What rules apply for making safe and legal left turns?
A left turn is an operation that carries a risk, since the turning vehicle crosses traffic lanes used by other motorists. To make the left turn safely and legally, Florida motorists must observe the following rules:
- Proceed with the maneuver only where it can be done with reasonable safety.
- Once it is safe, signal your intention to turn by using the vehicle’s lamp signals or with your hand or arm.
- Begin signalling no less than 100 feet before actually turning, keeping the signal activated continuously for this distance.
- Yield to oncoming vehicles that are in or approaching the intersection and near enough to it to constitute an immediate hazard.
The presumption of negligence for left-turning motorists
When evidence establishes that an accident occurred while a driver was executing a left turn, a presumption of negligence applies. This means that the burden of proof shifts to left-turning drivers, who must then prove that they were not at fault for the accident. For example, motorists who claim to have turned at a green signal must prove they turned at the time the signal was showing green.
When a left-turning driver is not liable
A few situations exist where the driver making the left-hand turn will not be held responsible for an accident:
- When an approaching vehicle on a straight path drove through a red light
- When the turning vehicle began the turn safely in clear traffic conditions but stopped or slowed down during the turn due to an unexpected event
If you have been involved in a left-turn accident, our experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorneys can offer valuable assistance and advice. Establishing liability can be complex and usually involves collecting and examining evidence, including traffic camera footage and witness testimony.