Police warn about illegal left turns

Making an improper left turn is the most common driver error contributing to accidents in Alberta intersections, the provincial government reports.

Whether due to ignoring traffic signs and signals, failing to yield for pedestrians or following too closely, the illegal left turn is a collision culprit.

Provincial statistics show 315 people were killed and another 39,791 injured in collisions at Alberta intersections between 2010 and 2014. Canada-wide, 28 percent of fatalities and 40 percent of serious injuries occur at intersections.

“Never assume the other drivers are always going to do the right thing at an intersection,” said RCMP traffic services inspector Steve Daley in a Jan. 5 provincial news release.

“You should always check for vehicles approaching the intersection to make sure they are going to stop completely or yield the right of way. Safe driving means that we are constantly watching the road and other drivers to avoid dangerous collisions.”

There are fines for messing up at intersections:

• $388 and three demerits for failing to stop at a stop sign

• $575 and four demerits for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk

What’s the right way to execute a left turn? The province describes it thus: signal first to provide reasonable warning to other drivers of intention. Then, check traffic and conditions on both left and right and left again before making the turn. Treat red lights the same as a stop sign, even if turning right at an intersection. Stop and check for pedestrians or other traffic and only proceed once it’s safe.

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