“Look both ways before crossing the street!”

As parents, we often teach our children this before allowing them to cross the street. But it’s amazing how many times we adult drivers forget to look both ways before turning our vehicle from a side street, private drive or at an intersection.

I was intrigued but not too surprised when I read this recent news article showing the prevalence of pedestrian deaths on Arizona roads as a result of negligent motorists.  The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety notes that from January through November of 2019, 200 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle/pedestrian collisions, making Arizona the second deadliest state for pedestrian deaths. According to Alberto Gutier, the director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, a common cause is when drivers do not look closely enough when making a right-hand turn.

When was last time you drove up to an uncontrolled intersection planning on making a right or left-hand turn? Sure, we all look to the left to make sure there are no vehicles approaching, but how often do we look to the right? What about pedestrians, bicyclists, children riding scooters, or others who may be traveling on the sidewalk and about to enter the crosswalk from right to left right in front of you? All too often, we pull up over the crosswalk and fail to look to the right before starting our turn after looking left to make sure we won’t get struck by an approaching vehicle. A potentially dangerous habit to adopt, for certain.

Last year we resolved a serious injury case against a large trucking company. Our client, then fourteen years old, was riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk when she rode off the sidewalk to cross the road to reach the sidewalk on the other side. The driver of a semi tractor-trailer was stopped at a red light.  He looked to his left, and not seeing any traffic, began a right-hand turn, running over our client, dragging her under the large tractor and nearly killing her. The semi driver never saw our client, but would have. . . had he merely looked to his right before beginning to turn right. Fortunately, our client survived, but has lifelong orthopedic and burn injuries.

“Look both ways before crossing the street” is not just advice for our young children. As motorists, we should always look both ways before making a right or left turn. If motorists do so, Arizona will become a much safer state for pedestrians and bicyclists.