Left turn accidents are one of the most dangerous types of car crashes. In many instances, it is more time consuming, but safer to make a series of right turns. Left turns at intersections are a relatively difficult driving maneuver involving many split second judgments made simultaneously. A driver must judge the speed and distance of approaching vehicles, look for pedestrians or bicyclists crossing in the crosswalk, monitor their own traffic signal and making a judgment ab:out whether it is safe to turn. Unfortunately, these are often head-on or t-bone collisions which result in high impact and serious injuries.
Arizona law puts a high responsibility, in the form of a duty to yield on vehicles making a left turn at an intersection:
The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction and that is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard.
The driver turning left has the duty to yield to all approaching vehicles including those that are in the intersection and those that are close to the intersection which are an “immediate hazard." This includes vehicles which enter the intersection from the opposite direction on a yellow light and may also include vehicles that enter the intersection on a red light, depending upon how close they were the time of the turn. In practice, often when the vehicle coming from the opposite direction is speeding or enters on a “stale” red light, there is no violation of A.R.S. § 28-772. In Arizona, these scenarios also make for a complicated liability analysis in personal injury cases because the fault for failing to yield can be compared to the red light runner/speeder. Often, bodily injury insurance adjusters who do not want to strain their brain on this issue, simply revert to the default position that both drivers share fault 50/50.