Study: Left Turns Are Harmful – For Pedestrians

CORVALLIS, Ore. (CBS Seattle) – The findings of a recent study show that turning left while driving is inherently dangerous – for pedestrians.

The study, conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, indicates that drivers focus so intently on successfully making a left turn, they don’t pay as much attention to the presence of pedestrians.

“When in the crosswalk at intersections without protected left-turn phasing, pedestrians are particularly at risk from left-turning vehicles,” the study, published online by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, stated.

According to KQED, researchers surrounded a test car with projection screens that simulated several turning scenarios. The set-up also included eye-tracking devices that allowed scientists involved with the study to see where the test subject’s attention was drawn at a given moment in the simulation.

In 4 to 9 percent of the simulated left turns, test drivers were so focused on properly turning without hitting a car that they did not even notice the presence of pedestrians on the screen.

The study added: “Though legally required to yield to opposing … vehicles and pedestrians until an acceptable gap is present, it is not uncommon for drivers to fail to observe pedestrians.”


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