Deadly left-hand turns and how motorcyclists can prepare

Motorcyclists are at a distinct disadvantage on the road for a number of reasons. Not only are they more vulnerable in a crash, they are also more difficult to see, and vehicle drivers often have a hard time judging their distance and speed because of their size.

These may have been factors in a recent North Carolina crash between a sedan and motorcycle, as reported by The driver of the sedan made a left-hand turn in an intersection and collided with the motorcycle. The collision killed the motorcyclist, but left the driver of the vehicle unharmed.

According to, the most common type of motorcycle accident involves vehicles making left-hand turns, and every rider should view every vehicle in a turn lane as a potentially life-threatening situation.

Because drivers who are looking for other vehicles will not usually perceive a motorcycle, every rider’s best chance of survival is to ride defensively and prepare to take evasive action. Defensive tactics riders should take involve the following:

  • Slowing as they approach an intersection
  • Covering their brakes
  • Accounting for a gap in traffic that may indicate a vehicle not yet in view
  • Trying to make eye contact with drivers in the turn lane
  • Looking at wheel direction and movement

In traffic, braking or swerving suddenly may not be an option, so riders should be aware of whether there are vehicles behind them and to the sides and have a plan. Being fully aware of the capabilities of the motorcycle brakes and using them without locking them is critical, as slowing down even 10 mph may save a rider’s life in some circumstances.

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