Who's in the wrong? (Accident, left turn from right lane)

There’s a four-way intersection controlled by a traffic light. The main road (let’s call it Main St.) is one lane each way with a central turning lane, the crossing road (let’s call it Cross St.) is one lane each way. Main St. has the green light, and left turns are allowed on green after yielding to opposing traffic.

There’s a car in the right “through” lane on Main St. attempting to turn left onto Cross St. (which is illegal, but I see this all the time). While the turning car is waiting for the traffic to clear on the opposing lane so they can make their turn, a driver behind the turning car gets impatient and decides to pass through the intersection by using the central turn lane (which is also illegal, for obvious reasons). The opposing traffic clears and the turning car starts their turn just as the second car is reaching the intersection in the central turn lane and they collide.

Who is most at fault?

I put equally, but it’s a tough call. I think they both should be ticketed for illegal lane use at least.

The first car caused the situation, and should have just proceeded and turned around at a safe spot.

The second car was an impatient jackass, and mad a bad situation worse.

Good description by the way. It’s hard to write those car/lane/intersection things up.

If I understand the scenario correctly, they’re both dipshits but the first car is astoundingly moronic for not, you know, looking to the left to make sure that huge gap where they’re supposed to be is clear.

I think both drivers were naughty enough with lane use and disregard for other traffic that I’d have no problem selling a 50/50 liability call, although if pressed to pick I’d say the guy going straight in the turn lane (the car to the left) is more liable.

The reason: he knew the turning car intended to turn across his path when traffic was clear, and that the turning car’s attention was unlikely to be as focused on traffic behind and to the left as opposed to looking for an opening in oncoming traffic. It generally doesn’t matter what traffic ahead of you is doing, if you surrender a safe position to interfere with it you become liable to some extent. Yes, he was supposed to sit patiently behind the left turning jackass. Had he done so, the accident would not have occurred.

I think the guy trying to go straight through the turn lane is more at fault, maybe entirely, depends on the law. On the other hand both drivers are idiots. I don’t understand the ‘left turns on green’ thing. Aren’t left turns on green always legal? I know in CA it effectively becomes left turn on red because you can’t do the sensible East Coast thing and peel out as soon as the light turns green.

So I guess the law has some priority to determine who’s more at fault. The guy who turned left without looking for a car to his left, or the guy who tried to go straight through a turn lane. I still say the guy in the turn lane because he was definitely doing something illegal, while the guy turning left may not have been violating the law.

I saw something very similar just the other day, luckily didn’t result in an accident. Large truck needed to make a sharp right turn, so he moved to the left side of the lane and was waiting for people making left turns from the opposite direction to finish going through the turn. In the mean time some ditz in an SUV decided she could sneak past him on the right. I could see the truck’s blinker signalling a right turn from the front (I was going the opposite direction). Maybe the blinker wasn’t working on the back and she thought he was turning left since he was over on the left side of the lane, but it’s still illegal to pass on the shoulder, and just plain stupid to try. I give credit to the truck driver, he managed to stop just before crushing that car. This was a big heavy dump trunk on it’s way to the quarry to pick up tons of rock, so if he hadn’t seen her he would have destroyed her vehicle with only a minor impact.

If you have to pick who is most at fault, it’s the second driver. The reason being that despite that the first driver is attempting to make an illegal turn, his intentions are obvious to the second driver by the fact that he’s stopped in the through lane and hopefully with his turn signal on. Even if he didn’t have his turn signal on, the least he should have assumed was that perhaps he didn’t see it turn green. So, while the first driver was wrong, that he was doing something bizarre should have put the second driver on alert even if he wasn’t sure if he was turning left or whatever. Whereas the first driver may not have seen the second one if he figured his turning left was obvious, why would someone pass on the left, I sure as hell don’t check for someone passing me on the left when I’m making a left turn, although I don’t make illegal turns either. He may also have looked and the guy was in his blindspot or something. Thus, the first driver likely could have prevented the accident, but the second driver absolutely could have. Yes, the whole thing could have been prevented if the first driver hadn’t made the initial illegal act, but when a driver does make an illegal turn, a second driver that hits him, even without breaking any laws, can still share some blame if he had reasonable opportunity to avoid the collision. And that the second driver in this case also made the illegal act, he’ll obviously share a larger amount of blame than if he hadn’t.

That all said, despite that I think the second driver is slightly more at fault, I’d still say it’s pretty damn close to even, say 55-45 or even 51/49 since both of them were driving illegally and both clearly contributed to the collision…

Why would cars “all the time” try to turn left from the through lane when there’s a turning lane there?

It’s because of this type of traffic light (red on top, standard yellow and green on right, left turn arrow yellow and green on left), typically accompanied by this sign (“Left Turn YIELD On Green”). I’m not sure exactly why but many people will sit and wait for the green left turn arrow, even if there is no oncoming traffic.

I ask the question in the OP because I see this, or some variation of it, happen all the time (well, everything except the collision). For some reason people ignore the clearly marked turning lane and hold up traffic by trying to make left turns from the right “through” lane. After much honking and yelling, inevitably someone gets pissed off and roars up the turn lane and through the intersection (while giving the turning driver a honk and what I’m sure is a friendly hand gesture). Thankfully I’ve not witnessed any collisions yet.

Because they’re lost, or not paying attention, or just stupid. I see this happen every single day.

It might help if you identified a State or city. Traffic laws vary by location.

The question, “Who is “most” at fault” suggests that you want to know who is financially responsible for repairing any damage to either/both vehicle caused by the collision. That will probably be settled by (insurance company) lawyers in a civil court. How long did the passing vehicle wait behind the turning vehicle before attempting to pass? 10 seconds? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Did the turning vehicle use it’s turn signal or hand signals (does anyone know what those are any more?) to clearly indicate that they were turning left?
Both dirvers are expected to have the vehicles under control at all times and are expected to avoid a collision.

-Turning left from the center/pass thru lane when there is a left turn lane available is a violation of traffic laws.
-Passing at an intersection is a violation.
-Blocking a road is a violation.
-Blocking an intersection is a violation.
-Changing lanes in an intersection is a violation.

I can see where both drivers would recieve tickets for violating several traffic laws.

Or because there are already a number of cars turning left, and if they don’t use the through lane to jump to the front, they’ll have to wait for the next green light. Stupid, but I see it (and the accidents it causes) all the time

They both sounds like boobs - I said equally responsible, although Inigo is the pro so I’ll amend my answer to match his.

Was left lane guy past the point where he could claim he was going to turn until right lane guy hit him?

Their story after the fact is irrelevant. What matters are their intent and actions. The first driver’s intent was to make a left turn from the incorrect lane. The second driver’s intent was to bypass the first driver from the incorrect lane.

This is not necessarily a legal question.

It’s close, and they’re both chuckleheads, but I give the slight edge to the second driver, who could see exactly what was about to happen and went ahead anyway.

Post #8 makes it clear your OP is a hypothetical, but it would be nice to believe that only the stupid drivers are running into each other. If you see this sort of thing happening all the time, there’s probably a need for better markings and/or signage at this intersection too. Maybe you could contact somebody…

There’s nothing wrong with the markings or signage. Here is the intersection on Google Maps where I see this occur on a daily basis. That one, and the next intersection up the road. The road was resurfaced and the lane markings completely repainted since that image, so there are absolutely no ambiguities. People around here are just fucking morons.

Since it doesn’t look like that street ever has a long line of cars turning left, might I ask if you notice this more frequently with larger vehicles ( vans or SUV’s)? If so it might be an example of what I call " The mechanic charges me truck rates so I need two lanes to turn" syndrome. It’s true that a minivan needs more room to turn than a Smartcar- but they can make a left from the left lane. It’s not like a minivan is the length of a bus.

No, it’s not a matter of large vehicles. That road gets pretty heavy traffic during both morning and evening rush hours. The vast majority of drivers are going straight, and people get pissed off and do idiotic things when other idiots forget what the turn lane is for.

Pretty much any and every kind of boneheaded, self-centered, dangerous behavior you can imagine goes on all the time on the roads around any major American city. I live in the same region as the cited intersection.

You’ve got to remember that these are just simple drivers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know…morons.

That is just frickin’ bizarre. It would never occur to me to try to make a left turn from any lane other than the leftmost lane, whether that leftmost lane was marked as a turn lane or not [except in places where there are two turn lanes, though that’s irrelevant here].