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If you have been driving for many years, then you’re probably familiar with every driving maneuver you will encounter on the road. A three-point turn? No problem. A right turn on a red light? Piece of cake. However, you may not realize that the most dangerous maneuver you can make while driving is one you do every day.

What is the most dangerous driving maneuver you can make?

A green Lamborghini turns left at an intersection.
A green Lamborghini turns left at an intersection. | Getty Images

The most dangerous driving maneuver you can make is an unprotected left turn. Do you know those left turns where you have to yield to oncoming traffic and wait in the middle of the intersection? That seemingly innocuous maneuver that you do every day could have grave consequences.

Why are these turns so dangerous?

A beige car driven and pickup truck sit at an intersection after colliding during rush hour traffic.
A car and a truck sit at an intersection after colliding during rush hour traffic. | Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 36% of all traffic accidents happen at intersections. More than 480,000 of those crashes happen while vehicles are making a left turn. The folks at Price Benowitz cite the following reasons for these left-turn crashes happening:

  • Obstructed view while turning
  • Driving into blind spots
  • Misjudgment of other’s driver’s speed
  •  Miscalculating the distance across the intersection
  • Failure to yield to the “right of way”

That last point is important if you were to get into an accident while making an unprotected left turn. In the eyes of the law, the driver making the left turn would be presumed negligent and the cause of the crash since they did not have the right of way.

How to make a safe and legal left turn


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Although you’re probably good at making left turns with all those years of driving under your belt, it can be easy to forget the basics. Here are a few tips to ensure that you can make an unprotected left turn safely:

  • Before making the turn, activate the turn signal
  • Be patient and remember that the drivers going straight have the “right of way”
  • Make sure that your view is not obstructed
  • If you see a break in the traffic, make sure you can make the left turn on time
  • Pay attention to the posted speed limit to gauge how fast other drivers are driving
  • Obey the traffic laws to make sure you’re not making an illegal left turn

Although an unprotected left turn may seem like a harmless maneuver you make every day, it can come with some hefty consequences. Many drivers get into accidents due to negligence, improper timing, and failure to judge the distance between their starting point and the end of the turn.

Remember that every second counts when making a left turn. Be patient, pay attention, and make the turn when you know it’s safe. After all, you wouldn’t want to become a statistic and be a victim of the most dangerous driving maneuver in the book. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many years of driving experience you have under your belt.