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Left-turn accidents: what to know

Traffic accidents always come down to a blame game and the person making the left turn is usually in the wrong.

About half of all crashes at Canadian intersections involved a vehicle that was turning left, according to a 2007 joint study by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

With so many claims stemming from those incidents, the Insurance Bureau of Canada considers all left turns into traffic, that lead to an accident, as against insurance company policy. This is detailed in the Insurance Act of 1990.

Before trying to beat the light and making an ill-advised left turn, here are some things drivers should consider:

Different types of Insurance

Insurance companies always deem someone at fault in cases of accidents. The fault could be partial or full depending on the circumstances. Individuals deal with their own insurance companies, regardless of who caused the accident. No-Fault insurance allows a person to receive part or full coverage by their company regardless of who caused the accident. They can receive medical and other benefits without having to track down the other driver and take them to court. They are also eligible even if they are deemed to have caused the accident.

Proving who’s at fault

Insurance companies determine fault by analyzing accident reports. Therefore, if the other drive committed a traffic violation as well, such as speeding or running a red light, there is room for adjustment by insurance companies. Adjusters can “split the fault” in these situations, leading to a split between both drivers instead of full liability for the driver turning left. These faults can be split in ratios of 50/50 or 75/25, depending on the circumstances, the police report, and the behavior of each driver.

As a driver, proving what happened at the time of the accident is crucial in determining your eligibility for an insurance claim. First-hand witness accounts are helpful in constructing the scene before and after the accident. An impartial, third party witness is ideal to corroborate your story, especially if you claim that the other driver was at fault.

The police recommend extra precautions while waiting at a red light. Ensuring the safety of a left turn and clear vision of oncoming traffic should be established before turning. Standing behind the traffic stop line, though not required by law, is also recommended.

In Toronto, it’s illegal to enter an intersection to make a left turn if there is a sign that reads: “Do not block intersection”.

Read more:

Insurance Act

No-Fault Insurance