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Left Turn Accidents in NYC Scrutinized by the DOT

daLeft turn accidents in New York City kill or severely injure pedestrians and bicyclists 3 times more than right turns. These findings are part of a study focusing on left turn crashes that was recently released by the NYC DOT.  As part of Vision Zero, the DOT carefully analyzed 1,105 crash reports over a period of 5 years.

The most dangerous intersections for left turns are those when a vehicle is turning left from a one lane and one way street onto a two way and two lane street wider than 60 feet. When a driver makes a left turn in this type of intersection, his visibility of pedestrians is limited. Additionally, the driver often pressured by traffic behind him, has to find gaps between the incoming traffic and the pedestrians crossing.

The study also found that victims of left turn accidents are mostly pedestrians with a median age of 67. They are most commonly hit by cars, vans or pickup trucks.

Over several years, the DOT also evaluated several ways to reduce left turns crashes and found out that :

  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals were the most effective in reducing severe injuries and deaths of pedestrians and bicyclists related to left turn crashes. Intersections with LPIs recorded an average 56% decline of severe injuries or deaths.
  • Protected bicycle lanes have also proven to be very effective in protecting pedestrians and bicyclists from left turn accidents. The number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed or severely injured in left turn accidents dropped by 53 % at intersections where a protected bike lane was installed.
  • Intersections with left turn restrictions recorded an average decrease of 41% in pedestrian and bicyclists injuries related to left turn accidents
  • Left turn only signals resulted in a decrease of 33% of pedestrians and bicyclists injuries
  • Left turn bays helped reduce injuries by 15%

Equipped with these valuable findings the DOT has already started to re-engineer some of the most dangerous intersections of New York City such as Broadway and West 96th Street, Northern Boulevard and 61st Street, Amsterdam Ave, 9th Ave and West 17th street, 7th Ave South and Bleeker Street, 7th Ave and 23rd Street, among others.

More safety redesign is planned for the coming years as well as a public information campaign.

Illustration: courtesy of DOT