Right-turning drivers not always checking for walkers and cyclists

A Canadian study yielded some surprising results.

When Connecticut walkers, joggers, runners, bicyclists and people using wheelchairs and other motorized devices utilize the roadways, sidewalks and intersections of the Constitution State, they should be able to rely on the reasonably safe driving practices of people behind the wheel of cars, vans, SUVs, trucks and buses to keep them safe.

Canadian study of right-turning drivers

In August 2018, researchers at the University of Toronto Engineering Department released the results of their study about driver behavior when turning right at intersections. The shocking conclusion was that more than 50 percent of drivers studied did not visually scan for people on bicycles or pedestrians when turning right.

The researchers used eye-tracking devices to measure eye movements of 19 drivers while turning at two busy four-way intersections in Toronto. Both intersections required right turning that crossed dedicated bicycle lanes.

Drivers observed were 35 to 54 with at least three years of experience as drivers.

Study conclusions included:

  • Eleven of 19 drivers did not check an "area of importance, where cyclists or pedestrians would be located, before turning."
  • The "attentional failures" consisted of failing to frequently look over drivers' shoulders to look for bicycles.
  • Failures were higher when parked vehicles blocked the view of the bicycle lane and more likely if the driver drives more often in the area.

The supervising professor was surprised by the high failure rate, considering that the drivers' ages are considered lower risk for accidents. He felt that when driving infrastructure in a city is inconsistent as far as whether a bike lane is present on a particular street, it is more difficult for drivers to consistently and frequently do visual checks over their shoulders.

He also warned walkers and bikers to assume that drivers are not seeing them when they cross streets.

Consult legal counsel

While it is good advice for bicyclists and walkers to take precautions when crossing in traffic, if drivers of motor vehicles breach their duty not to drive negligently or recklessly and thereby cause accidents that harm pedestrians and cyclists, the drivers may be liable for damages to the victims in personal injury lawsuits.

In extreme accidents that result in death, surviving loved ones should consult legal counsel about the possibility of wrongful death suits.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of James L. O'Rourke with offices in Stratford and Shelton represent the victims of pedestrian and bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles in the Greater Bridgeport area.