The left turner

Seaway News - - AUTO TALK - Bob Kikkert

Take a ride with me on High­way 138, the two lane road that links Corn­wall with that su­per slab High­way 417. We are trav­el­ling south from 417 and are ap­proach­ing the turnoff to Moose Creek (CR-15). Ve­hi­cles turn­ing into Moose Creek do so by us­ing the right turn lane. Through traf­fic con­tin­ues straight on 138. This is a four way in­ter­sec­tion with the turn to Moose Creek on the right and a less trav­elled McLean Road to the east. Both of these roads have stop signs.

In front of us are two cars and a large four wheel truck. We are all trav­el­ling around the speed limit of 80 km/h and our mo­tor­cy­cle is fol­low­ing the truck. As we ap­proach the in­ter­sec­tion, the truck sig­nals a right turn into Moose Creek and moves to the right lane. The two cars pass through the in­ter­sec­tion with­out slow­ing down. As we ap­proach the in­ter­sec­tion, a car com­ing from Moose Creek on our right makes a sud­den left turn and cuts us off, ne­ces­si­tat­ing an in­stant emer­gency brak­ing ac­tion.

What I have just de­scribed is one of the most com­mon haz­ards en­coun­tered by a mo­tor­cy­clist. We call them the dreaded left turn­ers. Quite of­ten, these sit­u­a­tions re­sult in a col­li­sion with tragic con­se­quences for the mo­tor­cy­clist. The left turner can be an on­com­ing ve­hi­cle or one en­ter­ing from a side road, al­ley or road­side busi­ness such as a shop­ping cen­tre or a gas sta­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hurt Re­port, 28% of fa­tal col­li­sions be­tween cars and mo­tor­cy­cles are the re­sult of left turn­ers. The Hurt Re­port was a mo­tor­cy­cle safety study con­ducted in the USA and pub­lished in 1981 by Pro­fes­sor Harry Hurt.

The in­ci­dent I de­scribed above hap­pened to me in the fall of 2009. To make mat­ters worse, the driver of the left turn­ing car was talk­ing on a cell phone. So why didn’t he see me? What could I have done to avoid that emer­gency brak­ing ma­noeu­vre? In my next col­umn we will ex­am­ine these two ques­tions and dis­cuss how to rec­og­nize a left turner and how to avoid col­lid­ing with them.

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