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Who Has the Right-of-Way When Making a Left Turn?

Posted On 03/30/20

Many intersection accidents are the result of one driver making an illegal or unsafe left-hand turn. Confusion as to the turning driver’s right-of-way contributes to these collisions, as does driver negligence such as drunk, distracted and drowsy driving. Learning who has the right-of-way when turning left according to Arizona’s traffic laws can help you prevent an intersection accident. It could also assist in determining the defendant during an injury claim after a left-turn accident.

The Driver Traveling Straight Almost Always Has the Right-of-Way

More often than not, the driver who was making the left-hand turn at the time of the collision will be liable for the accident. The police will almost always credit the turning driver with causing the crash. This is because the driver traveling straight will almost always have the right-of-way. The vehicle making the left-hand turn must yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles traveling straight. It is the left-turning driver’s legal responsibility not to enter the intersection until it is safe to do so. The turning driver could be guilty of many acts of negligence that place him or her too close to an oncoming car.

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Failing to yield
  • Darting out into traffic
  • Misjudging the distance or speed of oncoming vehicles
  • Failing to keep a proper lookout
  • Failing to notice an oncoming vehicle
  • Drunk driving
  • Drowsy driving

Any of these acts of negligence or recklessness could lead to a driver turning left in front of oncoming vehicles and causing a collision. In almost every occurrence, the driver turning left will be legally to blame for an accident that occurs in an intersection. Exceptions to the rule exist, however. In some cases, the driver turning left will bear the right-of-way. In these situations, the driver proceeding straight through the intersection might be liable instead.

What Type of Light Governed the Turn?

The type of traffic light governing the driver turning left could help determine fault for a related crash in Arizona. If the light is green, drivers moving straight across the intersection will have the right-of-way. The same is true for a blinking yellow light at an intersection. A driver may only turn left at a red light on a one-way street, and only if it is safe to do so. The driver must yield to all oncoming vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing the destination street in these scenarios. The only time the left-turning driver will have the right-of-way is with a green arrow. A green arrow signaling the driver to turn left gives that driver the right-of-way.

If the driver making the left turn had a green arrow, the driver that collided with him or her going straight might be to blame. This driver would have had to run a red light to collide with someone who was making a turn with a green arrow signal. Another scenario where a turning driver might not be liable is at a four-way stop. At an intersection governed by a four-way stop sign, the driver that approached first will have the right-of-way. If this is a driver turning left, he or she will have the right to make the turn before any other driver proceeds into the intersection.

How a Lawyer Can Help

After a motor vehicle accident involving a driver turning left, hire an accident lawyer in Phoenix for assistance determining fault and proving liability. Although the driver turning left will most often be to blame, every case is unique. Exceptions to the rule could make the other driver bear fault instead. Identifying the correct at-fault party could help you dispute liability if you did not cause the crash. It could also maximize your payout from an insurance provider. Work with a Phoenix personal injury attorney to determine fault, gather evidence of someone else’s liability and bring your claim to damages in Phoenix. Contact our firm today to learn more about your case in Arizona.