Turning left can be dangerous. A driver has to anticipate the actions of approaching vehicles. This article addresses accidents involving left-turning cars.

Calfornia Law About Left Turning Vehicles

California law provides that the driver who plans to make a left turn must yield to all oncoming vehicles close enough to constitute a hazard during the turning movement.

California Law About Oncoming Vehicles

The Vehicle Code states that no person can drive faster than is reasonable under the circumstances. Although entering the intersection on a yellow light is legal, accelerating to beat the signal can be unreasonable and found to be a cause of an accident. The Vehicle Code cautions drivers to slow down when the light turns yellow.

How The Law Works

The most common situation involves a driver deciding to turn left on a stale yellow light. Many drivers misjudge the intentions of the approaching driver. A common accident is when the turning motorist thinks the oncoming driver is going to slow down and starts to turn. Instead of slowing, the driver accelerates at the last moment to beat the red light. A collision happens.

Who is at fault? It all depends on the circumstances. As a general rule, both drivers can be at fault. The turning driver may be negligent for failing to yield. The oncoming motorist can be held responsible for driving at an unsafe speed.

California is a comparative negligence state, which means the negligence of an injured driver does not bar an injury claim. In the above example, the left-turning driver maybe found 50% at fault for the crash. As a result, he receives 50% of his damages under California law. If the driver’s injuries are severe enough, it is worthwhile to make a claim.


Determining who was at fault in a traffic accident can be difficult. At MCIS, we can evaluate your case. We offer a free consultation. No pressure, just answers.