News Article
A Surprising Number of Drivers Don't Look Before Turning

How many of you have had near misses or collisions walking and biking near intersections? Turns out drivers aren't following a very important safety rule that could prevent this.

According to a recent study by U of T, more than 50% of drivers failed to make the necessary scans for pedestrians or cyclists at right turns. 

The engineering researchers studied the eye movements of drivers at busy intersections to find out this data. This is the first study to date that used eye-tracking equipment to accurately assess where drivers are looking when turning at an intersection. 

The participants ranged in age from 35 to 54, all with more than 3 years of driving experience. The drivers were required to make right hand turns at a signaled 4-way intersection and an uncontrolled intersection leading to a smaller road. Both locations required drivers to safely turn right across a dedicated cycling lane. 

The researcher's study found that:
  • Eleven of the 19 drivers failed to gaze at an area of importance, where cyclists or pedestrians would be located, before turning.
  • All attentional failures were related to not making frequent over-the-shoulder checks for cyclists.
  • There were more failures at the uncontrolled intersection, due to parked vehicles blocking the driver's view of the bike lane. 
  • Attentional failures were more likely for those who drove more frequently in the area. 
  • It appeared that drivers less familiar with an area were more cautious when turning. 
Engineering professor, Birsen Donmez, says, "The results are surprising. We didn't expect this level of attention failure, especially since we selected a group that are considered to be a low crash-risk age group. When crossing a street, your assumption should be that the car doesn't see you."

Assuming the car doesn't see you will not completely solve the problem. Just obey the laws and watch out for each other. Everyone should be careful and safe out on the roads.
Author: Dayna