Why Are Center Turn Lanes So Dangerous?

August 10, 2023 | By Impact Legal Car Accident Attorneys
Why Are Center Turn Lanes So Dangerous?

Center turning lanes are dangerous. So much so that they are sometimes referred to as “suicide lanes.” While the center turn lane is designed to maintain the flow of traffic, it can do just the opposite when drivers get confused, merge recklessly, or make other mistakes. Center turn lanes and left-hand turns often cause accidents. In this article, we'll discuss these types of accidents, Arizona laws concerning turn lanes, and liability in accidents that involve left-hand turns.

If you've been hurt in a center-lane accident or left-turn accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation. To learn about your potential accident claim, call or text our car accident lawyers in Arizona at (602) 345-1818 to set up a free initial consultation and case review. You may also fill out this online contact form to request a free, no-obligation consultation with our car accident lawyers.  

Center Turn Lane Defined

The center turn lane is meant to facilitate left-hand turns while maintaining the flow of traffic. In Arizona, this lane is legally defined as a “two-way left turn lane.”  

The Dangers of Center Turn Lanes

People often use center turn lanes incorrectly, which is the reason these lanes are so infamously dangerous. Some common ways that turn lanes are used improperly include:

  • Entering the turning lane too soon; driving in a center lane for too long before the turn
  • Confusing dedicated turn lanes and center turn lanes; some lanes are meant to be used for one-way traffic, while others are for drivers coming from both directions
  • Not seeing other vehicles as you turn or merge into other lanes
  • Misunderstanding right-of-way
  • Using the turn lane to accelerate and merge into traffic

A Note About Turn-Lane Dangers for Motorcycles

Left turns from center lanes can be incredibly dangerous for people on bikes because it can be hard for other drivers to see them. Either the motorcycle's turn signal is difficult to see or the driver in the turning car doesn't see the bike at all as he or she is making the turn. Left-turn mistakes are extremely common in motorcycle accident cases. 

Arizona Law Concerning Turn Lanes

Arizona Revised Statute 28-751 outlines how to make turns in Arizona, including center-lane turns and left-hand turns. The statute reads:

28-751. Required position and method of turning

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:

  1. Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
  2. Left turns. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle. If practicable the driver shall make the left turn from the left of the center of the intersection and shall make the turn to the left lane immediately available for the driver's direction of traffic.
  3. The director or local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause markers, buttons or signs to be placed and may require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by vehicles turning at an intersection. When markers, buttons or signs are so placed, a driver of a vehicle shall not turn a vehicle other than as directed and required by the markers, buttons or signs.
  4. Two-way left turn lanes. If a special lane for making left turns by drivers proceeding in opposite directions has been indicated by official traffic control devices:

(a) A driver shall not make a left turn from any other lane.

(b) A driver shall not drive a vehicle in the lane except if preparing for or making a left turn from or into the roadway or if preparing for or making a u-turn if otherwise permitted by law.

Fault in a Left-Hand Turn

In Arizona, commonly, drivers making left turns are proven to be liable. This is because Arizona's right-of-way traffic laws require vehicles turning left to yield at intersections to opposite-driving motorists. Even so, the law provides exceptions, such as with green light arrows. 

Other exceptions that may apply when a fault in a left-turn accident includes:

  1. The other driver ran a red light or a stop sign and hit the driver making the left turn
  2. The other driver was speeding when he/she hit the turning driver
  3. The other driver is driving recklessly or aggressively
  4. Other unforeseen circumstances

Text Our Car Accident Lawyers For a Free Consultation

If you've been hurt in a center-lane or left-turn accident, call or text our car accident lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation and case review. Whether you were the driver turning left or the other driver, you may have grounds for legal compensation. Learn more by scheduling a free consultation with us at (602) 345-1818. You can also fill out this convenient and secure online contact form, and we will reach out to you to schedule your appointment. 

Note that the information in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to be taken as legal advice. To get specific legal advice regarding your situation, call or text Impact Legal to set up your case review today. 

We are located in Arizona and New Mexico. We serve clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Maricopa, and the entire state of Arizona. We also serve clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Los Alamos, Las Cruces, and the entire state of New Mexico.