A November 11 car accident took one life and injured three other people in Howard County, according to police. A man driving a 2016 Hyundai Elantra was traveling south on Washington Boulevard near Troy Hill Drive, when he was struck by a person driving a 2017 Nissan Rogue attempting to make a U-turn.
The driver of the Elantra was pronounced dead at the scene, while the three passengers in the Rogue were taken to Saint Agnes Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The car accident is currently under investigation.
What makes U-turns so dangerous?
As mentioned, the Elkridge accident occurred when one driver was attempting to make a U-turn. Not enough is known about the incident at this time to determine liability and fault; however, it is known that U-turns can be dangerous when not executed properly.
U-turns are more dangerous than a standard left-hand turn. A U-turn is a maneuver in which a driver changes direction by making a 180-degree turn. U-turns can be dangerous because they are often unexpected and can startle other drivers. U-turns are especially dangerous at intersections, on curves, and in other road areas with poor visibility.
Some dangers of U-turn accidents include:
- Startled drivers. The sudden maneuver can startle other drivers, who sometimes fail to stop or respond appropriately.
- Misjudgment of distance and speed. Drivers may miscalculate the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles.
- Chain reaction. If drivers behind a U-turning vehicle do not have time to brake, they could hit the rear-end of the vehicle, which can cause a chain reaction that results in a multi-vehicle accident.
- Rollovers. Drivers tend to drive through the turn too fast, periodically resulting in rollovers.
- Fatal consequences. U-turns are unexpected maneuvers and usually do not allow time for faster-moving vehicles to change course and avoid an accident.
U-turns are permitted only if they can be made without endangering other traffic. When choosing a place to make a U-turn, you should make sure drivers coming from all directions are at least 500 feet away from you, and they can see you clearly.
When should I NOT make a U-turn?
You should not make a U-turn in the following situations:
- When a traffic sign prohibits U-turns
- On curves, hills, and freeways
- In weather conditions where you are not able to see clearly, such as in rain, fog
- When doing so could cause you to be hit by other vehicles
- When you are on a one-way street
- When you are unable to see 200 feet in each direction because obstacles are blocking your view
- At or on a railroad crossing
- On a divided highway by crossing a dividing section, curb, strip of land, or two sets of double yellow lines
- In front of a fire station
All of these situations can put you at risk for a serious car accident.
What is the safest way to make a U-turn?
When making a U-turn, you should use your signal at least 100 feet from the turn. Signaling allows other drivers to be aware of your intentions, reducing the risk of accidents.
Other things to consider when making a U-turn include:
- Start the turn from the far left lane on your side.
- Slow down — the slower you go, the sharper the vehicle turns.
- Make sure there’s plenty of space. The larger your vehicle, the more challenging it is to make a U-turn.
- Be sure that the path is clear (approaching vehicles should be more than 200 feet away and the crosswalk should be free of pedestrians).
- Look for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and other potential hazards before beginning the maneuver.
- Check for other vehicles turning into the lane or lanes you plan to enter from the other side of the roadway.
- Drive close to the right edge of the road.
- Look over your right shoulder.
What are Maryland’s laws on U-turns?
Maryland has specific laws on U-turns, including the following:
(a) If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn to the left in an intersection or into an alley or a private road or driveway, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction and is in the intersection or so near to it as to be an immediate danger.
(b) If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn to go in the opposite direction, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any approaching vehicle that is so near as to be an immediate danger.
In Maryland, motorists can legally make a U-turn if:
- They do not make a U-turn on a curve or crest of grade
- They make a U-turn across a double yellow line if it is safe and there are no signs prohibiting it
- They make a U-turn in a residential area if no oncoming traffic is within 200 feet or there is a traffic signal protecting them from oncoming traffic
The most important thing to remember about U-turns is that any vehicle close enough to present an immediate danger has the right of way, and you must yield.
Who is liable for a U-turn accident in Maryland?
Maryland is an at-fault state, which means that the driver responsible for a collision is also responsible for damages and compensation. A driver who makes a U-turn from the wrong lane or without proper warning can be held liable for a resulting collision.
In Maryland, fault for a car accident is commonly done by proving traffic law violations by one party, such as running a red light or turning at a “no-turn on red” intersection.
Maryland operates under a pure contributory negligence system of liability. This means that if you were in any way to blame for the accident, you cannot recover. This is why it is so important to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side; to help demonstrate that you are not in any way at fault for the accident.
Plaxen Adler Muncy is Maryland’s personal injury law firm, and if you were injured in a U-turn accident, we want to help. Talk to us today to find out if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. We are here to fight for you. Call our office or complete our contact form to get started on your case today. We look forward to meeting you at one of our many office locations around the state of Maryland.