What is a Wide Turn? 

What is a Wide Turn? 

What is a Wide Turn? 

Many people have questions about wide right sharp turns when driving, and subsequent accidents. Generally these involve large commercial vehicles, mostly trucks. Due to their size (more than 10,000 pounds), these oversized vehicles can’t be turned the way a small passenger car can—from the nearest lane. Instead, the large truck’s driver needs to turn right from the second lane to the left, or vice versa for right turns. However, although it is necessary for the driver to swing wide when making this kind of turn, they also have to be careful not to swing too wide. 

Is Making a Wide Right Turn Illegal in Virginia?

When you are doing so in a small passenger vehicle, yes. If you’re swinging left before making a right turn in your sedan or SUV, this is not only illegal, but it’s also an unsafe practice and you should stop doing it. (If you’re having difficulty with this, a driving school may be able to help.)

However, you may make wide turns in a large truck, but you still have to be careful about how you do it. Under Virginia state law, both the approach and the actual turn should be made as close to the curb or edge of the roadway as possible for your vehicle.

The reason for this rule is because if a large truck makes too wide of a turn, there may be space for another vehicle to pass through. Then as the truck completes its turn into the lane, it may “squeeze” the other vehicle, causing an accident. These are called “squeeze play” accidents, and unfortunately they can lead to serious injury or even death for the people riding in the passenger vehicle. If you’ve been injured in such an accident or know someone who has, please contact us for a free consultation.

Truck Wide Right Turn Accident Information

“Squeeze play” is not the only way accidents can occur when trucks make wide right turns. Another common situation is when the rear wheels of the truck end up running onto a curb, or worse, a sidewalk where pedestrians may be walking or riding bikes. Chances are, you’ve seen this situation happen a few times while driving. It occurs because the length of the trailer and size of the turning radius prevent the back wheels from following the path of the front wheels exactly. This scenario is also called “off-tracking.” It can be prevented by swinging the front wheels out wide enough to avoid the back wheels going over the curb. But again, the front of the truck can’t swing too wide as this will also cause problems. In some of these turns, there is little room for error. This is why it’s so important for large truck drivers to have proper training and experience.

Head-on collisions are another possibility when a truck driver swings too far left before making a right turn, as they may enter the path of a vehicle in the oncoming lane. Wide right turns also increase the risk of a truck tipping or rolling over, which can lead to another kind of serious accident. While these types of accidents are less common, they can still cause serious injury or death. 

In some cases of accidents with a lot of damages, the driver may be arrested for a wide turn, and sometimes other charges. This is most likely to happen if there has been a death or serious injury from the accident.

The CDL manual advises large truck drivers to turn right slowly, with the rear of the vehicle as close to the curb as is practical. They should turn wide while completing the turn, but should not swing wide to the left as they begin to turn. If they have to swing into an oncoming lane, they should check for traffic first and give other vehicles room to get out of the way. They should not back up while in a turn.

Wide Right Turn Ticket

A wide right turn ticket usually means that the issuing officer believed the turn was too wide for the circumstances. Although Virginia law recognizes that large truck drivers can’t turn from the rightmost lane into the rightmost lane without running over a curb, it also recognizes that swinging too wide is dangerous. For this reason, the law says that right turns should be made as close to the curb or edge of the road as is practical

If you were in an accident with a large truck, and the truck driver received such a ticket for a “wide right turn,” it’s highly likely they were at fault. A personal injury attorney in Virginia can advise you on your rights and options in this situation.

Virginia Wide Left Turn Accidents

Left turns can be even more dangerous than right turns when it comes to the opportunities for accidents. The vehicle making the turn has to cross even more lanes of traffic, and sometimes also bike lanes and crosswalks. Again, a large vehicle like a truck has to swing wide enough to make the turn, but not wide enough for the trailer to cross onto the sidewalk or other areas where it shoudn’t be. Other vehicles or pedestrians in the truck’s path can leave the driver with little or no room to maneuver. Additionally, trucks have longer areas of “blind spots” on their left side, increasing the odds that the driver won’t be able to see another vehicle or pedestrian. In general, it’s a good idea to give large trucks a wide berth when you’re driving, especially if you notice their left turn indicator is on.

The CDL driving manual recommends that large truck drivers making a left turn wait until they get to the center of the intersection before they begin turning. If there are two turning lanes, they should use the rightmost one.

Causes of Wide Turn Accidents

There are many contributing factors to these types of accidents. Sometimes the truck driver may be at fault, but it can just as easily be the company they work for. In some cases, the company may have failed to properly train their drivers, or they may not have performed the appropriate maintenance on their trucks. In other situations, the company that owns the truck may have done everything right, but the truck manufacturer may have made a mistake that led to the trailer swinging too far during turns.

Some common causes of wide turn accidents involving truck driver error:

  • Failing to use a wide turn signal
  • Starting a right turn with the rear of the trailer too far from the curb
  • Swinging the truck out of the far-right lane, creating an opening for vehicles
  • Failing to use windows and mirrors to keep a lookout and appropriately manage space
  • Entering a turn lane too quickly
  • Backing up to complete a turn
  • Driving whie under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Distracted driving (such as texting while driving)
  • Tired or drowsy driving (the driver’s employer may also be at fault here if they pushed the driver to meet unrealistic time expectations)

Here are some other situations that can contribute to wide turn accidents:

  • Defective turn signals
  • Defective or lack of appropriate mirrors
  • Lack of truck driving experience
  • Lack of qualifications and training
  • Unfamiliarity with a new route

Wide Right Turn Damages

If you or someone you love have been injured in a wide right turn accident, we recommend that you contact an attorney to better understand your legal rights. In general, you may be eligible to be compensated for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Property Damage
  • Physical Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Reduced Earning Capacity
  • Reduced Quality of Life

What is Pure Contributory Negligence in Virginia?

We get a lot of questions about this topic. Under Virginia’s pure contributory negligence rule, if the judge or jury believes the plaintiff (the accident victim) was at fault even to a small degree, then the plaintiff is not entitled to any compensation. For this reason, it’s important to discuss your accident with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible, so they can begin building evidence to show another party was at fault. (This may be the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, etc.)

You may be thinking, “But it wasn’t my fault.” And that may be true. But for the purposes of a lawsuit, the issue is what the judge or jury believes, which may or may not accurately reflect the situation. So even if you were not at fault, it’s important to speak with a lawyer to protect your rights, and begin gathering evidence to prove you were not at fault.

If you have any questions about your rights in a wide turn accident, or any other personal injury situation, please contact a Virginia personal injury attorney for a free consultation.