Don't Cut Corners: Left Turn Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crash Study

Source: New York City DOT

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) developed the Left Turn Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Study to advance New York City’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. Between 2010 and 2014, 108 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed by left turning vehicles (out of 859 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities 2010-2014). In 2016, Mayor de Blasio prioritized the reduction of these failure to yield crashes, noting that left turns account for more than twice as many pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities as right turns and over three times as many serious injuries and fatalities.

Left turns are more dangerous than right turns for three main reasons: left turns can be taken at a wider radius, which leads to higher speeds and greater pedestrian exposure; the driver’s visibility is partially obscured by parked cars and the vehicle’s A-pillar; and left turns are more complicated than rights, and require more mental and physical effort (“driver workload”) than right turns.

In line with the Vision Zero Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, this study utilizes a data-driven approach to examine crashes. DOT took an exhaustive look at the problem of left turn pedestrian and bicyclist injuries (including fatalities) in New York City, querying five years of citywide crash data, manually reviewing 1,105 crash reports drawn from the most problematic locations citywide, and analyzing 478 intersections where treatments were installed. The study relies on these findings to provide recommendations for additional engineering, planning, and education efforts to prevent and mitigate left turn failure to yield pedestrian and bicyclist injuries.

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