At most New York intersections drivers are permitted to tun left while pedestrians are in the crosswalk. While pedestrians have a false sense of security because they are in a crosswalk, left turn drivers often concentrate on on coming traffic while turning and fail to look for pedestrians. Additionally because they can be taken at a wider angle, motorists tend to take left turns at a higher speed than right turns.
From 2010 to 2014, 108 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed by drivers turning left in New York City, that’s more than 20 people every year and almost two people every month.
Recently a mini video describing the dangers encountered by two young brothers going to school perfectly illustrate what dangers pedestrians, especially the youngest and the oldest ones, face every day.
As part of the Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic death, reducing the number of left turn accidents is a priority. The New York City Department of Transportation just released a LEFT TURN Pedestrian & Bicyclist Crash Study entitled “Don’t Cut Corners”. The study identifies the multiple challenges facing drivers while making a left turn and used 5 years of pedestrian and bicycle crash data (2010-2014) to analyse the extent of the problem citywide. Additionally another manual review of the NYPD MV104 crash reports helped analysts to point out specific left turn scenario that were more dangerous than others. For example left turn crashes occur twice more often when a vehicle is turning from a minor street onto a major street than when a vehicle is turning left from a major street to a minor street. The DOT also lists various street treatments to reduce left turn crashes and evaluates their efficiency. The study also provides example of projects that have already been successfully implemented at dangerous City intersections such as Broadway and West 96th Street (see picture below).