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Why is it Difficult to Make Left Turns in Los Angeles?

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Why is it Difficult to Make Left Turns in Los Angeles?

Posted on February 5, 2020 | Written By: iadminlaw

In Los Angeles, it’s famously difficult to make left turns… but why is that, exactly? What should drivers know about local laws, and about driving safely while in LA? Get these answers from I Accident Lawyer.

Why is it Difficult to Make Left Turns in Los Angeles?

As residents of Los Angeles know, Southern California has its own distinct driving culture. Embedded in this culture are a number of unique protocols and regulations. One of the most notorious of them all is Los Angeles’ confusing “Left Turn on Red” rules. These rules can result in a familiar scene: A long line of cars at a major intersection, racing to see how many can speed through the light before it turns red.

The “Left Turn on Red” problem highlights an even more basic truth about driving in Los Angeles: It’s simply very hard to make a left turn. But why is that, exactly?

The Problem with Left Turns in Los Angeles

There are a number of factors to consider here, and one is that very few traffic lights are designed with left turn arrows. That’s because most of the major intersections in Los Angeles were built well before the population started to sprawl. At the time, there was no perceived need for left turn lanes or left turn arrows. Los Angeles didn’t get its first left turn arrow until the mid-1960s, and to this day, only about 15 percent of all LA traffic lights have the left turn arrow.

The good news is that, as part of the city’s ongoing Vision Zero initiative (designed to minimize highway fatalities), a number of left turn arrows are being added… but as you might imagine, this will be a painstaking process.

What Does the Law Say About Left Turns in LA?

Another factor to consider is the law itself. In California, if a light turns red, cars must stop behind the white limit lines. If you’ve crossed over the white line while the light was still green, you must complete your turn; failure to do so can back up traffic. But if the light turns red and the driver crosses over that intersection line, it could land them with a traffic ticket. This is purely a matter of safety: In Los Angeles, the primary causes of car accidents include failure to yield, red lights, and speed.

It’s so hard and potentially so dangerous to make a left turn in Los Angeles that a lot of big companies, such as UPS, have a policy of avoiding left turns completely. UPS trucks have their own sophisticated GPS algorithms, designed to help drivers navigate LA without having to make any left turns. This program was developed to help maximize efficiency and lower the risk of accidents.

Safe Driving in Los Angeles

For the time being, drivers in Los Angeles may want to take a page out of the UPS playbook: When it comes to minimizing accidents and steering clear of traffic tickets, you may be better off just making right turns.

Regardless, if you do wind up in a highway accident here in Los Angeles, reach out to I Accident Lawyer and ask to speak with a car accident attorney. We are happy to help however we can and are available for consultation 24/7.

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