Look Left Last

Posted Thursday, September 01, 2016 by Ed Harper

Look Left Last

Recently, a couple of events in my life reminded me of a driving principal – you have to “Look Left Last”.

Looking left last as you enter an intersection will eliminate many potential hazards to you and your loved ones. Drivers must look to their left, as their obligation to satisfy reasonable care when driving, prior to pulling into traffic, or turning left across traffic. A typical scenario is when a driver is stopped at a stop sign, waiting for traffic to clear. They look for pedestrians passing in front of them, as well as cars coming from their right. However, the most important place to look is to the left for cars that are rapidly approaching, and the first cars that must be avoided when pulling into an intersection. (This is true, unless you are fortunate enough to travel in Great Britain and or Australia – where you’d have to look right last as they drive on the opposite side of the road.)

Many things can cause one not to look carefully: distracted driving, stressful events at home or work, or pure laziness. However, no matter what is going on in life it is important to look both ways, and to use caution each and every time you enter an intersection.

Teaching your children to drive, or riding with older drivers, you have to reiterate this fact over and over – take your time and look! A glance is not enough. There are a variety of reasons you may not see vehicles or pedestrians: a glare, the color of vehicle blends in with the scenery, sight obstructions, or differently shaped vehicles such as bicycles or motorcycles.

These are some of the saddest cases in a personal injury practice – when someone fails to use reasonable care, and turns in front of an unsuspecting driver and/or rider. Two collisions come to mind, both involving motorcycles. However, the motorcyclists were not at fault in either case. In both cases, drivers turning left from a smaller road, turned in front of the motorcyclists, and collisions occurred. One led to the wrongful death of a young United States Army Ranger, and the other led to a catastrophic brain injury for a young father of two children. Tragically, these collisions did not have to happen, and changed the lives of all involved.

Drivers are held to a standard of care while driving. If you approach a crosswalk, you have a responsibility to continuously observe for pedestrians. (WPI 70.03.01) In short, it is the responsibility to see that which is there to be seen. Vehicles and pedestrians are, for the most part, pretty obvious on the roadway. However, you must not forget the principal to “Look Left Last” in order to prevent a serious collision.

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