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North Carolina Study: When It Comes To Road Design, Left Turns Kill

Anyone who has spent time behind the wheel knows that left turns are more dangerous – and more annoying – than right turns. But now road design experts are finding just how many car accidents and car accident injuries could be eliminated if he scrapped left turns altogether and designed “superstreets” instead.

This month traffic safety researchers at North Carolina State University have released a new study that reveals that eliminating traditional intersections and replacing them with superstreets that do no allow left turns could reduce the car accidents by 46 percent and car accident injuries by a stunning 63 percent. In addition, researchers found that eliminating left turns gets drivers through even busy intersection 20 percent faster.

The researchers collected their data from three superstreets with traffic lights and 13 superstreets without traffic lights located across North Carolina. The superstreets do not allow left turns, but instead require drivers entering the road to turn right and then make a u-turn further up the road. While superstreets have existed for several decades, this is the first in-depth study on the effect of the street design on car accidents and injuries.

Why do researchers think that superstreets work better? Very simply, cars are not turning left in front of oncoming traffic – ever. That means that accidents caused in intersections by speeding drivers, reckless drivers, or distracted drivers would be all but eliminated. Not only does this reduce the chances of a serious car crash, it also makes turning left take much less time – a perk that could save a significant amount of gasoline.