NYPD Raises Awareness about the Dangers of Left Turns in New Video

April 11, 2019

Left turns caused at least 70 preventable pedestrian collision deaths since 2016

The NYPD launched a new public awareness video today warning of the specific dangers posed by vehicles making left turns at crosswalks and intersections. Left turns cause disproportionate levels of preventable injuries and deaths every year, because they pose unique traffic safety threats.

"While we have made progress in our quest for Vision Zero through education, enforcement, and engineering, any injury or fatality is unacceptable, and preventable," said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan. "When a loved one doesn't come home as a result of being struck by a vehicle it is no less tragic than losing that same loved one to any other form of violence."

The video includes remarks from NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, and also features testimonials from New York City parents who lost children to tragic traffic collisions. Amy Tam-Liao and His-Pei Liao lost their young daughter Allison when she was struck by a left-turning vehicle while crossing a street with her grandmother. Dana Lerner lost her son Cooper Stock, 9 when he was struck by a left-turning vehicle. The families now advocate to eliminate roadway deaths as part of Families for Safe Streets.

Since 2016, 70 pedestrians were taken from their family as a result of left turning vehicles. In 2018 alone, 21 people lost their lives to dangerous left turns, out of 116 pedestrian deaths. In 2018, approximately 33% of pedestrian injury collisions were a left-turning vehicle.

Left turns are more dangerous than right turns for three main reasons:

  1. Left turns can be taken at a wider radius, which leads to higher speeds and greater pedestrian exposure
  2. The driver's visibility is partially obscured by parked cars and the vehicle's A-pillar
  3. Left turns are more complicated than right turns, and require more mental and physical effort ("driver workload") than right turns

The video is the most recent extension of the successful Vision Zero program, New York City's action plan to end traffic deaths and injuries. As part of Vision Zero, NYPD has enhanced enforcement of dangerous driving, such as Improper Turns and Failure to Yield to Pedestrians. Since the plan's inception in 2014, traffic fatalities have hit historic lows. 2018 saw the lowest amount of lives lost to collisions since 1910. 2018 also saw a decrease in overall fatalities since 2017, and vision zero summons have been up every year since 2014.

YearCollision Fatalities
2010 268
2011 249
2012 277
2013 298
Vision Zero Begins
2014 255
2015 234
2016 231
2017 221
2018 202

At part of the Vision Zero program, NYPD increased enforcement of several fractions that lead to collisions. They include speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, improper turns, cell phone usage, texting, and disobeying signs.

YearVision Zero Summonses
2013 485,178
Vision Zero Begins
2014 569,754
2015 596,767
2016 638,095
2017 685,570
2018 704,284